THE SECOND COMING: PART 4 — A Scriptural Study For the Close of the Age
~ A continuing look at II Thessalonians 2,
Something happened recently that caused me to closely examine myself. It made me see how fierce the wrath of Satan is and how determined he is to draw us into his snare. He knows the weakness in us and is ready to use it to make us fall.
I related the following in a recent letter that went out from here. Never, to anything we've written, has there been so much response. This is what I told.
Let me quote from a letter coming from a missionary on the field:
As the day of Christ draws closer, the anti-Christ will increase his determination to deceive and entrap us. It is more important than ever that the Holy Spirit search out the darkness in us and release His healing and delivering power in us.
The longing for a father buried in my bosom was slight compared with what lies in the hearts and minds of many. We know, because we deal constantly with people. We also know there is enough power in the Kingdom of God to reach in and deliver any person who will open up to the healing power of the Lord.
The pain of physical and emotional abuse, heartbreak, disappointment, guilt over personal failure, sin and humiliation reside in the deep recesses of many lives. Some things are so painful they cannot be kept in conscious memory. Therefore, they are pushed down in the human spirit away from memory—but not away from a place of influence over mind, emotions, and will. Dark things remain buried in the subconscious parts of many a person while he or she tries to go on with life. The trouble is, these dark things catch the attention of Satan and will make surviving in the dark time of the end very difficult.
Whatever attack we have had from the realm of darkness up to this time will only increase. The war on believers has only begun. The Lord Jesus helps us see this in Matthew 24:21,22. For then shall be great tribulation (thlípsis megále—ull blown and intense affliction; crushing oppression) such as was not since the beginning of the world... The Prophet Daniel gave his word to the same effect. In Daniel 12:1, he said, ...and there shall be a time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation.
I can only add that, after spending years with the above statements, conviction has only increased that they point to the end of this age. You say there have been terrible times of suffering already. Shall we see something more severe than anything that has ever happened? A wise answer is yes.
While the pain of physical abuse and suffering, mental torment and emotional traumas may not get any worse than they have before, the spiritual darkness mixed with the suffering will become more intense. It is coming from the wrath of the anti-Christ and all the seducing spirits that work with him. In his last desperate attempt to put down the Kingdom of Christ on earth, he will reach for whatever in us belongs to him that he might wring the last bit of life out of us. He intends to wear us out and lay us on the ground with no hope of recovery.
He just doesn't know!
Most interpreters add words throughout this passage to make its meaning clear. For me, it has been necessary to spend time with the original Greek and allow its words to come over on my spirit. It becomes apparent the Holy Spirit caused this passage, and some others relating to the time of the end, to be obscure. If this were not the case, we would develop doctrines about the end that are precise and "right" for a time when precision will not fit.
Quite frankly, I become a little unsure of those who have their every doctrine settled with regard to the end-time. We can be certain of this: in the days that come, many doctrines we hold dear are going to have their testing.
Some of the most important Scriptures relating to the end carry with them an irregularity. They tell of a time that will seem highly irregular to our poor minds with our limited ability to comprehend. Only the Holy Spirit can comprehend the fullness of what is happening and the Word that pertains to it for the last days. For this reason we give our selves unto His leadership.
We can comprehend some of what the Holy Spirit is speaking for this day. We learn to trust Him with regard to the rest.
As we examine the Thessalonian passage, we look at the verses as they
appear in the King James Version of the Bible. We will take a close look
at certain key words in the original Greek.
Words corresponding to "for that day shall not come" do not appear in the original.
We told about the falling away in the previous MASCHIL. Let us recall this: the words translated falling away, hé apostasía, mean "the apostasy." It is the time when those who, in some degree, have identified with the Lord Jesus now take a decided and definite stand against Him. The day of Christ, which Paul mentioned in the previous verse, cannot come until this takes place.
Then that man of sin will be revealed. Paul also called him the son of perdition. These are titles he gives to the anti-Christ. He is the one who will bring sin to completion. Before the day of Christ comes, he must be revealed. This means any veil covering his true identity must be removed so he can appear for who and what He is.
That man of sin is from the Greek hó ánthropos té hamartías. It is important to note the Definite Article té with hamartías. It makes it mean "THE sin." The anti-Christ comes as the final and full embodiment of the sin that came upon us through Adam. He will bring sin to its highest degree by manifesting all that is evil and rebellious against God.
Hamartía means "the missing of the mark." It is the condition of one who has swerved aside from the call and purposes of God and has gone down a path away from Him. Every person in the world is in this condition, having been born off the track because of Adam. (Romans 5:12 makes this clear.) As the sin that began in Adam comes to its final expression in the man of sin, sin will burst out in the lives of people all over the world like never before. Speaking of this, Jesus said, ... and because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold—Matthew 24:12.
So dissolute and wicked is this one that he must be called the son of perdition. This means "the son of waste, of corruption, of eternal ruin."
His goal is to take over the temple of God. He hates us because we are that temple, indwelled by the Holy Spirit. Since the Holy Spirit is the Chief Agent of Christ's Government in the earth, the anti-Christ wants to corrupt His dwelling so it becomes useless to Him.
Briefly, we need to review what Paul said about the temple. He saw it in three dimensions. Never did he regard it as a building; he saw it as people. In I Corinthians 6:19, he said the individual believer is a temple. What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you...? In I Corinthians 3:16, he revealed a local body of believers is a temple. Know ye not that ye (plural) are the temple of God...? In Ephesians 2:20, he said the universal church becomes a temple. He spoke of Jesus Christ Himself ... in whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple.
In each case Paul used the Greek word náos to speak of the temple. It means "the most holy place." He made several other uses of it with reference to persons who are believers. It is unlikely he would place another meaning on it in II Thessalonians 2:4 speaking of the temple anti-Christ wants.
Opposeth is from the Greek antikeímenos. Take note of the first part of this word—anti. It means "against or opposite to." The whole word means "one who occupies a position opposing someone." In an incredible move, the anti-Christ sets out with the goal of opposing God, Himself.
Exalteth is from a word meaning "one who arrogantly raises himself up with a haughty front." Ironically, this man will seek to raise himself to a position of deity. He wants to be, if not God Himself, at least a god. In moving toward this, he will withstand every form of worship there is except what is directed toward him.
The words he as God sitteth in the temple of God need careful attention. The word in in this string of words does not come from the ordinary Greek word en which carries that meaning. Rather, Paul used eís, which is quite different. The Greek Preposition en, which he did not use here, indicates where something is located—in the house, in the heart, in the temple, etc. On the other hand, eís means unto—unto the house, unto the heart, unto the temple. There is a difference. One comes unto the house only to remain outside. The anti-Christ pushes unto the temple, crowding toward a seat inside—only to remain outside! He never makes it. He is cut short of his goal by the coming of the Lord Jesus. We know this by reading ahead to verse 8.
According to some Daniel passages included at the end of this article,
he makes an awful mess around the temple, but he does not reach his goal.
We begin seeing this in verse 6. And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time.
Paul indicated the Thessalonian believers should have known what brought restraint on the anti-Christ. As we become acquainted with the Word of God, especially what came through the Prophets, we learn that the restraint has come from out of God's eternal domain. Through the ages, a divine "restraining order" has been placed on the satanic activities of the anti-Christ and on the spirits and people who work with him. There can come no movement out of anti-Christ's realm except as allowed by God. He can move only within the bounds of what is contained in Scripture relating to him. In Daniel 7:25 we see he wants to alter this.
We take note of the words that he might be revealed in his time. Revealed is from the Greek Aorist Infinitive form of the word apokalúpto. It means "to be unveiled; to be plainly and distinctly disclosed." According to the interpretation of Greek grammar, the Aorist Infinitive means that this unveiling can happen but one time. All the suppositions and theories regarding certain men through the ages as being the anti-Christ never once came into realization. Only the true anti-Christ will be unveiled—and that at the time set by God.
This unveiling of him will happen in his time. His is from eautos which means "his own." It is distinctly for him. Time is from kairós which means "a period of time; a season having a marked characteristic." It is apparent the anti-Christ is allowed by God to have a season—with his character stamped upon it—in which he can work without restraint. In this period of time, he will manifest himself to his own destruction, as sin in him reaches the fullest point possible.
In the spirit, David saw this dark time and called it the time of trouble in Psalm 27:5. Indeed, many of his Psalms are for the people of God going through this time. Daniel saw it. The Lord Jesus saw it. Paul saw it and called it the evil day in Ephesians 6:13.
Every word of this verse is so important we must look at it carefully. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.
Mystery is from the Greek mustérion. It means "a concealed principle or power" that cannot be known till it is revealed. It is the mystery of iniquity that is concealed.
Iniquity is from hé anomía. This is one of several New Testament words meaning "sin." It means sin in the sense of withstanding, or opposing, the law of God. It has worked through the generations of mankind as a mystery, concealed in its power as a principle of human life no one has been able to overcome—apart from Christ.
Doth already work is from the Greek energéo which means "to communicate energy and activity." The concealed principle of sin, even though under restraint, has been in operation from the beginning when Adam sinned. One generation has passed its energy and activity on to the next. There has been no ability on the part of any to harness it and keep it from passing on to the most innocent of babes. Take the most righteous man and the most virtuous woman in the world—filled with the Spirit of God, full of the knowledge of His Word, committed entirely to His will—if they be married and have a child, that child receives the energy of sin. The concealed principle of it, like a ruling life-force, has passed on and on and on through the ages.
Sin, even though it has passed from generation to generation, has been kept under restraint. The energy and power of it has been allowed to work only within the limits of this restraint. But the force that holds it down will be removed before the end.
Only he who now letteth is from the same Greek word as what withholdeth in the previous verse. This time it is ho katéchon. The statement means, "only there is a restraining force."
This restraint will remain until he is taken out of the way. Here we need clear insight.
Out of the way is from ek mésos. It means "from the midst." We are not told from the midst of what. It is apparent, when we consider other Scriptures relating to him, it means "from the midst of humanity." This is just as Jesus came from the midst of humanity. Only the two seeds are different. Jesus came from the seed of the woman; the anti-Christ comes the seed of the serpent. This is in preparation for the show-down between the two foretold in Genesis 3:15. God said to the serpent, And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed: it (he) shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.
As it was necessary that Jesus come in the flesh, so it is necessary
that the man of sin come in the flesh. Jesus was conceived of the Holy
Spirit; the man of sin must be conceived of Satan.
IN 1962, I MOVED TO TORONTO, Canada, to pastor a church. Several of the men belonging to this church were leaders in the Full Gospel Business Men's Fellowship. They had invited Brother David Wilkerson to speak at a banquet. This man is widely respected as a Prophet in the Body of Christ. As I remember it, he said in that 1962 meeting that the Lord had revealed to him there was coming a removal of restraint on sin. It was coming as a judgment in the land. Moral filth would run openly in our streets. In effect, he said sin would begin coming to its full.
About that time, a famous spiritualist and psychic published a book in which she told of a visitation from a serpent. It informed her there was then being born, some place in the world, a human baby who would come on the world scene as a "messiah." Because of her inside connections, she probably had correct information. If so, the word of II Thessalonians 2:7, as we have interpreted it about the birth of the man of sin and the removal of sin's restraint, is relevant.
Shortly after 1962, there came drastic change in the standards and morals of western culture. Our Supreme Court legalized abortion. Pornography became open. Murder was released in our streets with the assassination of our President. Prayer was removed from our schools. Moral standards for marriage and the bearing of children were removed. On we could go. The change with regard to sin and morality can be dated to that year.
Now, take note again of this understanding regarding what Paul said: "A restraining force will remain on the concealed power of sin until that one is born out of the midst." This means, when the man of sin does actually come to be in the earth, the mystery of sin's concealment will be broken and it will compound in power and magnitude. Then the world will become ready to receive the one John called a beast in Revelation 13.
The beast is another term designating the anti-Christ. When he comes upon the scene, something shall have taken place to make all the world ready to follow him with awe and admiration, having lost all sense of what is right and what is wrong. What an hour to be alive as believers!
NOW IN VERSE 8, we are ready for the final act. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:
That Wicked is from ho ánomos, meaning "the lawless one. " He is the embodiment of the rebellion, the full and final expression of disobedience toward God. But see this—his moves become so blatant and radical that he finally steps over the boundary that is set even for him and he meets his destruction.
We wait for that day!
The Lord shall consume needs a little special attention. In the Received Text of the Greek New Testament from which the King James Version is translated, the word consume is from analísko which means "to use up; to spend; to waste till nothing is left." In the Nestle text from which several modern translations are taken, the word is anairéo which means "to take away; to destroy; to kill." I can't tell why there is this variation in the texts. I only mention it in case your Bible reads differently than the King James which we are using. In any case, both words speak of his annihilation.
Take note of what Paul said will overcome this arch-opposer of the Kingdom of God. The Lord shall annihilate him with the breath of his mouth. Breath is from the Greek pneúma which means "spirit." Either the Lord will blow on him or He will Speak with His mouth to him.
But there is something else to meet this man of sin: it is the brightness of his coming. This is the epiphaneía (the sudden appearance, like a burst of light) of Christ's Parousía. This is one of the powerful texts revealing what will happen at the coming of the Lord Jesus. There will be released such a radiant outburst of power and glory, that, like the powerful blast of an explosion, it will completely do away with that one who has terrorized believers through the period designated as his time.
Not only will Christ's burst on the scene do away with the man of sin, it will defuse the power of sin as it has worked through the ages of humanity. Oh, oh, oh! What was accomplished when He died will reach its full dimension of realization when He makes this descent again upon the earth!
Verse 10 tells us he works ...with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish, because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. The deception generated by unrighteousness will increase to a new level. Those caught in its snare will lose all sense of what is right and what is wrong. Thus, they are susceptible to deception.
Them that perish is from a Greek Present Participle giving it the meaning of a perishing that is going on before its work is finalized at the day of Christ. These, caught in something strangling life from them, cannot discern that the life they are losing is the only life that will survive the final day. Thus, they become apostates from the faith.
They swim on in their sea of deception because ...they received not the love of the truth. I make much of this. It is here the Lord got my attention and drew me to receive this very thing—the love of the truth. This doesn't set me apart as special. I believe it is available right now to any who will open their hearts to receive.
Incidentally, the word love comes from the Greek agápe. It means pure unconditional love. How wonderful! We can have an unconditional love for the truth, even rejoice when it hurts.
Coming in verse 9 is from parousía, the one time the word is used to tell of a glorious "coming" other than that of the Lord Jesus. We capitalize the word when its reference is to the Lord Jesus, but not when its reference is to this man of sin. It is his last vain attempt to rule the world.
In the time allotted the man of sin to work, he is assisted by Satan
himself who releases an energy toward him that results in the display
of power and signs and lying wonders. The Greek word for
"power" used here is significant. It is dúnamis—dynamic
power, the power of explosion and creation, the power of miracles. Let
us not think that all the anti-Christ can achieve will be a mirage. There
will be real miracles, real displays of might, real wonders. Only they
will be wonders born of deceit, conceived from the realm of Satan, and
leading to death.
We look to the Holy Spirit to work the discerning of spirits in us.
How awesome and terrifying! To bring the iniquity to the full, to fill up all unrighteousness, to draw the line sharply and finally between those who stand with Christ and those who do not, God will send an energy of deception on those who halt between two opinions.
When this takes place, these who have hesitated will no longer be able to have an opinion. Their minds will have become taken over by a non-resistible power that draws them into the opinion on the side of the evil one.
A lie in verse 11 is from the Greek ho pseúdos. There is a Definite Article here. It should be translated "THE lie." It has connection all the way back to the deception the serpent brought on our early Parents.
Three forces of evil entered Adam and Eve that have remained like ruling principles on all their descendants—sin, deception, and death. Paul, in his writings, told of these as The Sin (hé hamartía), The Lie (to pseúdos) and The Death (ho thánatos). (Would that we had time to consider this!) The Lord Jesus came to deal with these three basics of depravity that have imprisoned us. He said, I am the way, the truth, and the life—John 14:6.
These three powerful and positive principles that rule in Jesus are set over against the three negative principles that have ruled in us. He invites us to receive from Him in each dimension. The one we deal with here concerns the lie and the truth.
As Paul laid out the life principles of Ephesians, he came to the point of speaking of the new man that we become in Christ—Ephesians 4:24. As we become this new man, we begin by renouncing the first force that marred the life of Adam, the lie that came from the serpent. See the statement in Ephesians 4:25. Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor... The word lying is from the same Greek we found in II Thessalonians 2:11—to pseúdos. Paul tells what we are to do. We are to put away the lie.
Before we can walk in personal victory, before we can withstand the determination of the anti-Christ to defeat us, before we can stand with Christ in His Day, this step is necessary.
How do we do it?
I didn't know; no one ever told me. I had to learn on my own. So I followed Paul's admonition. I said, "I renounce the lie that has come over on me because of who I am in Adam." This took the attention of the Holy Spirit. He came in a precious way. Then I said, "I receive the love of the truth that is in Christ Jesus." Something more happened. A love for His Word, partaking of it as food for a hungry man, came upon me. This has remained through years of knowing Him. I still stand in awe of His truth.
I have come to see it is not only a love for the truth of His Word that He gives; he gives us a love for the truth about ourselves. How necessary, if we are to partake of the grace He is offering for the last days!
THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE will be mostly Scripture, with few comments. There is much with which we need to become acquainted, but we do not have room to expound on each passage. We will leave this work to the Holy Spirit.
Some interpreters of the Bible take Scriptures we include and apply them to other times and people. The longer I spend with the verses that follow, however, the stronger the conviction grows that they all strike home to the end of the age with an interest for us who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Some prophetic Scriptures are so powerful that they call forth foreshadowing fulfillments before their final day. This may be what is behind certain "sightings" of the anti-Christ through the ages. Some individuals have risen high in his office, demonstrating much of his demeanor and character. Each one always passes off the scene, however, waiting for the anti-Christ himself to come.
Now, let us go into Daniel and look at passages pointing to the annihilation
of the anti-Christ. Each of the four prophetic visions the lord gave Daniel
tells of his end in terse and clear language. We will not try to interpret
the visions, but simply take note of the statements pointing to that one's
end. They will be enlightening to read in their scriptural setting.
NOW LET US LOOK at the list from the Daniel visions that reveals what anti-Christ intends to do. To interpret each of these would take more time and space than we have. Take note that points 1-10 follow what we see in Daniel 7 and 8.
The anti-Christ will be allowed a period of time to overcome the
He will bring blasphemy against God.
He will use up the natural energy of the saints.
He will attempt to change the times and a certain decree set by
God pertaining to him. This is in order to ward off his defeat.
He will come violently against the redeeming work accomplished
by the Lord Jesus, the sacrificial Lamb of God. Thus, he supposes
to take away the daily sacrifice. He will suppress all
worship and recognition of the Lord Jesus.
He will seek to bring about the desolation of the temple in order
to make it useless for the purposes of God.
He will exalt himself even to the point of destroying the holy
place of God. His anger seethes against the people who make up the temple
He will cause deceit to succeed.
By peace he will destroy many.
In his boldest and most unwise move, he will stand up against
even Christ Himself, the Prince of princes.
THE FOLLOWING FOUR POINTS arise out of the unusual revelation in Daniel 9. Here we find the time scheme for the closing out of this age. Soak in this chapter. It is one of the most important—although difficult for some to interpret—passages relating to the end. As the Lord enables us, we hope eventually to publish an article on it.
In this chapter, the anti-Christ is called a prince that shall come. He will have it on his agenda to accomplish the following:
NOW WE GO TO THE LAST GREAT VISION of Daniel contained in Chapters 10 through 12. We have seen some of the points of this section
in the other visions, but give them again because of their importance.
Here the anti-Christ is called a vile person in verse 21,
and a king that shall do according to his own will in verse 36.
FINALLY, LET US SEE what God intends to do. We draw this list from the same prophetic visions we find in Daniel 7, 8, 9, and 10-12.
IN THE LAST VISION in DANIEL 10-12, there is a remarkable list laying out the final great purpose of the Lord God. He will have a people pure and holy for the high purposes of His Kingdom. The list follows.
• Please read Psalm 27 again and again. I never saw before what power and light it holds for this hour. It speaks right to us regarding the time of trouble and the marvelous answer the Lord offers us for this time. Just dwell in the Psalm. Let its light and power come over on you.
We Continue with:
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