Tuesday, July 15, 2014

2 Thessalonians 2:1-11 What is Paul Really Saying?

Even though I have written on this passage in my endtimesstudies blog, I am constantly amazed and dismayed that people can read this passage of Scripture in such a way that they can so badly scramble what it says. It is an all too often misused and misinterpreted passage of Scripture having to do with the end times, although one of the simplest to understand. The passage of which I speak is 2 Thessalonians 2:1-11. It truly is not that hard to understand if you simply do not come to it with a preconceived prejudice or bias toward a particular theological doctrine, or spiritualize what it says. Let's take a look at it word by word, verse by verse, and just take it at face value, for I do not think Paul was trying to be obtuse or put it in hidden terms, so that only the “enlightened” could understand. That is a satanic thing, not a God thing. God is not the author of confusion. He wants us to understand, and He knows we are incredibly stupid. One only has to look at some of the crazy interpretations of some of the Scriptures out there to know this. The verses in question are the following:

Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. 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: Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie.”

When Paul taught the early churches about the Second Coming, he would have taught them what Christ had taught the disciples. And what would that have been? It would have been the information found in the Olivet Discourse. Within the Olivet Discourse there are no hidden secrets, no hidden meanings. Christ told his disciples straight out what to expect before His return and what they (or those who were alive when He returned) could expect to endure. Contrary to what some teach, Paul was not given a new secret about Christ's return which had not revealed to the disciples, that he was now to teach the Church. We will see that this passage and the Olivet Discourse line up exactly with the same chronology. Paul was teaching exactly what Christ had taught.

Starting with the first verse and taking it one section or phrase at a time, we begin with....

Now we beseech you, brethren,”

Paul was making a strong plea to them about something. He was not just asking, he was pleading with them about something. One only turns to pleading when one is distraught. They obviously had something amiss that he wanted to rectify, and he seems a little frustrated that they had so soon turned from the truth which he had already taught them. That truth being the information given by Christ to His disciples.

by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ,”

The thing which they apparently had misconstrued was something having to do with the Second Coming of the Lord. That is what the phrase “coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” clearly means. The “coming” is the Second Coming. So this is clearly speaking of the Second Coming of Christ, the one in which every eye shall see Him, for this is the only “coming” that had been taught. In the Olivet Discourse Christ told us in Matthew 24:30 “And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” We are also told by John in Revelation 1:7 “Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.” In all the verses speaking of Christ's return or coming, it is always a reference to the Second Coming in His power and glory.

John clearly still understands (well after Paul wrote his epistles) that there is only one coming of the Lord and it will be very visible to the world. It will be just as Christ described it to the disciples in the Olivet Discourse, in the clouds with glory for all to see. There is no mention anywhere in Scripture of Christ coming other than at His Second Coming. In fact we are told in several places that He cannot return until certain things occur. Acts 3:20-21, 2:34-35 “And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things.....For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, Until I make thy foes thy footstool.” Heaven receives Christ until there is a restitution of all things (on the earth) and Christ's foes (Satan, the beast, his minions) are made His footstool. This occurs at the time Christ returns in power and glory and the kingdoms of the world become His. 2 Thessalonians 2:8 “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:Until Satan and his beast are put down and are made Christ's footstool, He cannot return, according to this Scripture, secretly or otherwise. Until restitution is made and the earth is returned to its proper owner, Christ must remain in heaven. So there is one coming that Christ taught, John has taught in Revelation, and Paul is teaching here in 2 Thessalonians.

So to repeat, Paul is addressing something they have gotten wrong about the Second Coming. This event is mentioned in conjunction with something that occurs with it.

and by our gathering together unto him,”

This phrase is connected by a conjunction “and” which means the two go hand in hand. And this follows what came before. One does not put a second event before the first in a series of chronological events connected by the conjunction “and.” If I were to buy some groceries at the grocery store I would not say, “I bought some groceries and went to the store.” To say it that way would imply that I went somewhere (perhaps a farm market) and bought some groceries, then I went to a store afterward. While one can put objects in any order and have it make sense - “ham and eggs” and “peanut butter and jelly” are the same as “eggs and ham” and “jelly and peanut butter” - and while the order doesn't matter in these cases, still the two phrases exist as one entity, not two separate meals (a ham meal, and an egg meal) or sandwiches (a peanut better one, and a jelly one). While an order is not so essential in a list of objects, one cannot put events which occur in a timeline and have chronological significance in any order other than the order they occur, if one is to be understood correctly. The order for correctly understanding the order of events in the sentence above should be “I went to the store and bought some groceries.” Now it is clearly understood that I went to the store where groceries were sold and then bought the groceries there.

In the same manner, Paul mentions the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, then our gathering together unto Him. This clearly is a statement of the chronology of events. First Christ returns in His Second Coming in the clouds where every eye sees Him, then He gathers His elect. Now we can see that Paul did indeed teach what Christ taught in the Olivet Discourse, for that is exactly how Christ explains it.

Going back to Matthew 24:30 where Christ comes, and continuing on to verse 31 we find the same chronology. “And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”

The parallel passage is found in Mark 13:26-27 “And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. And then shall he send his angels, and shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven.”

So to this point, Paul is giving the order of events in the same manner Christ did. He has not changed the timing of the gathering of the elect to seven years before Christ's coming or any time before Christ's coming for that matter. It still occurs after He comes. Paul speaks of it in this same order in another passage. In 1 Corinthians 15:22-23 he says, “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming.” Paul is putting the resurrection at the time of the Second Coming. But the resurrection precedes the rapture, as we all know. 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 “For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”  Paul clearly tells us here that those who are alive at the coming (Second Coming) of the Lord will not precede the dead in Christ or the resurrection. So in this passage so far, Paul is imploring them to correct their misunderstanding about the Second Coming and the gathering of the elect, which as we shall see is otherwise known as the Day of the Lord. So what is he imploring them to correct?

That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us”

It would seem that someone has sent them a letter or told them by word of mouth, some new information regarding this subject and implying that this information has come from Paul and his associate. The information in this letter which they believe is valid has gotten them terribly upset. They are apparently shaken to the core, and it will shortly be seen why. Paul assures them that they should not be upset or troubled by this information that supposedly came from him, for it did not come from him and the information is faulty. So what is this information that has them so upset?

as that the day of Christ is at hand.”

Apparently this letter informed them that the Day of the Lord was happening. The Day of Christ, otherwise known as the Day of the Lord, is when Christ returns and pours out God's wrath on the world. It is the time when He will gather His elect before He pours out God's wrath. Now to be clear again, Paul is saying that this issue which has them all upset is concerning the Second Coming and gathering (rapture), which he then labels as the day of Christ, (another name for Day of the Lord) meaning that the Second Coming, gathering, and Day of the Lord are all the same event. All three things are inexorably combined into one major event and Paul refers to them as such in the way he writes this. Christ's Second Coming, the gathering of the elect, followed by the Day of the Lord are all part of one huge orchestration. And this makes perfect sense. The elect are not appointed to wrath. We should be taken out before God's wrath is poured out, as God has promised us that we will not suffer His wrath, but there is no reason to take us out any earlier than just before it begins. We are only not appointed to suffer God's wrath. We are not appointed to escape persecution. But Christ does not pour out God's wrath until He returns, so this order of events as laid out by Paul makes perfect sense and taken at face value it clearly makes things understood. It also lines up with what Christ taught.

Now we can understand why the people were so upset if they thought the Day of the Lord had commenced. They knew they should be gathered out before that happened. To think they were still here during the Day of the Lord would mean that, as the saying seems to be going around, they were “left behind.” Now Paul goes back to the basics that Christ taught in the Olivet Discourse to reassure them that there are signs that precede this event, which he no doubt has taught them, but they have forgotten, and they should know them, so that they will realize when the event does occur.

Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first”

Paul almost chastises them and tells them that they should let nobody deceive them. One thing that is going on in spades these days is the deception of what the end times events are. There are numerous theories out there as to what is going to happen, but what must be realized is that there is only one way it is going to happen. Only one of these theories is right. All the others are wrong. So anything that does not agree with the face value chronology of the Scriptures - of what Christ said in the Olivet Discourse, of what Paul said in his epistles, of what Peter said in his epistles, and what John relates to us from what he sees and hears in Revelation - is not correct.

What did Christ repeatedly say in the Olivet Discourse? Do not be deceived. Matthew 24:4 “And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.” Matthew 24:5 “For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.” Matthew 24:11 “And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.” Matthew 24:23 “Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not.” Matthew 24:24 “For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” Matthew 24:26 “Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not.”

So what is the first deception that Paul corrects in their thinking? That day.... what day?..... the day mentioned earlier - the Day of Christ or the Lord, (which occurs in conjunction with the Second Coming and gathering) shall what?..... shall not come except (until or unless)....that day (the Day of the Lord) shall not come until or unless something occurs first. What is it that must occur before that Day comes? There are a couple things that must occur. It won't come until 1) “there come a falling away first.” What exactly is this falling away that must occur first, or before any of these other events can happen? The Greek word for “falling away” is “apostasia” which means “to defect from truth” or “to forsake” (the truth). No matter how much some people want this to mean to fall away from the earth (as in a rapture) that is not what the Greek means. It means exactly what the English word apostasy means, a total desertion, departure, or abandonment of one's faith or principles. It is from the Greek word and its meaning that we get the English word and it's equivalent meaning.

So Paul is telling us that the Day of the Lord (and the Second Coming followed by the gathering or rapture) cannot occur until after there is a defection from Christianity's truth. Not a departure from the name “Christianity” but from the truth that is Christianity. “Christian” mega-churches abound. They are huge and growing, but when one looks at what they are teaching it seems to bear no resemblance to the truth of what is taught in the Scriptures. These are apostate churches. And not just the mega-churches fall into this category. Some of the big denominations, the cults who call themselves Christian, even small individual churches, are all abandoning, deserting, and departing from the truth of Scripture. They have created another gospel. One that is comfortable and easy and appeals to itching ears, but one that will not save you. I think it is safe to say that this first tenet is now a reality, so we have seen the first sign Paul has given us come to pass, although I do believe it will get worse.

And does this go along with what Christ said in the Olivet Discourse? Yes it does. Matthew 24:10-11 “And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.
And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.”
We see that before the abomination of desolation occurs, many shall be deceived (into apostasy) and be offended. This word “offended” is “skandalizo” in Greek. It means “to entrap, stumble, entice into sin and apostasy.” It is obviously the root of our English word “scandalize” which is when someone does something that crosses the boundary of moral behavior for all the public to see. So we see that Christ said that before the abomination of desolation (verse 15), there would be an apostasy. A falling away from the faith due to deception. This is why He kept warning us to not be deceived by false prophets. He told us that false teachings about His return would abound. And we can see that this is very true.

and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped”

What is the next tenet? 2) “and that man of sin be revealed.” The man of sin. And who is the man of sin? “the son of perdition” The only other person to be called the son of perdition was Judas. And why was he called that? Because Satan himself actually entered in and possessed him. This man of sin will be possessed or at least controlled directly by Satan himself and he will be “revealed”. How will he be “revealed”? He will do some things that will clue us in that he is the son of perdition.

Before pursuing more on the man of sin, we need to stop and again see that just as Christ put the apostasy before the abomination of desolation (when the beast comes to prominence), so Paul put it there too in this passage.

What kind of things he will do? “Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped;” This man of sin, the son of perdition, will first oppose God and exalt himself above God. Daniel 7:25a “And he shall speak great words against the most High,” Daniel 11:36 “And the king shall do according to his will; and he shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvellous things against the God of gods,” Revelation 13:5-6 “And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months. And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven.”

He will oppose God. He will be publicly verbal in his opposition, speaking insulting and blasphemous things against the most High God. He will try to usurp God's position (as Satan has been trying to do from the beginning and will try to do in a physical body now on earth) and demand that he alone be worshiped as God.

so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.”

Next we are told “so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.” He will sit in the temple of God declaring himself to be God, and he will demand worship of himself as God. Revelation 13:4, 15 “And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?......And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.” If a person does not worship him as God, they will be killed.

It says that he will show himself to be God. How would he go about doing that? By miracles. In this very passage in 2 Thessalonians we are told in verse nine “Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders.” In Revelation we are told one of these wonders. Revelation 13:13 “And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men.” So there will be miracles to convince people that he is God.

Now we need to address something that is a bone of contention between two differing Christian camps. What is meant by the phrase “so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God”? There are two vastly different understandings of this phrase. One takes it quite literally at face value, and the other spiritualizes it. The question that comes to my mind is, should we be spiritualizing it? We are told by Peter that prophecy is not for private interpretation. Spiritualizing a prophecy makes it a matter of private interpretation. But for the moment let us suppose it is supposed to be spiritualized or taken figuratively. The argument is given that in the New Testament we are told that we are now the temple of God, therefore any time a temple is referred to in the New Testament, it refers to our bodies. Does this hold true? Of the 108 verses that mention the temple in the New Testament, only seven of them are definitely not referring to the literal temple. Two of those seven are Christ referring to Himself as the temple and the other five are Paul telling us that we are the temple of God both as individuals and as the entire body of Christ. So to say that in the New Testament the temple refers to our bodies is erroneous. Granted, the temple was still standing during the time much of it was written, so it would refer to the temple as a physical place. But what about after it was destroyed. What about the prophecies, which is what this particular passage in 2 Thessalonians is about?

Let us take this verse figuratively and see where it leads us when we take it to its conclusion. If we believe that the temple is the body or more accurately the heart of the believer, then we would read this passage in this way, “so that he as God sits (or takes control and ownership of) the heart of the people of God.” This interpretation is saying that the antichrist, the man of perdition is going to set up his throne in the heart of Christians. Not in the heart of the unbeliever, mind you, but the heart of the temple of God, the Christian, which the unbeliever is not. It makes no reference at all, in this spiritualization, of the man of sin setting up himself in the heart of those who do not believe in God. Does this not seem a very wrong interpretation? It certainly does to me. And regardless of how much the person who wants to argue this may argue, this is the clear meaning of the verse by simple substitution of the words “Christian's heart and body” for “temple.” It would read, “so that he as God sitteth in the Christian's heart and body.” This is saying the Christian replaces the true God with the son of perdition as his god. Do these people who come up with these symbolic interpretations ever really take it to its conclusion and look logically at what they are saying? I think it is clear that we can dismiss this verse as referring to the figurative temple of God. So the only thing left is the literal temple. A temple which presently does not exist, and would have to be built for this verse to be taken at face value.

Are there any other verses that would provide evidence that indeed this interpretation is correct? Yes there are. Let us start at the place where this event mentioned here in Thessalonians is first mentioned. In the Olivet Discourse in the gospels we find Christ giving us a clue to this event.

Matthew 24:15 “When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand):”

Mark 13:14 “But when ye shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not, (let him that readeth understand,) then let them that be in Judaea flee to the mountains:”

To understand to what Christ is referring, we need to reference the book of Daniel. In that book we find a couple of references.

Daniel 9:24-27 “Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy. Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.”

Daniel 11:31 “And arms shall stand on his part, and they shall pollute the sanctuary of strength, and shall take away the daily sacrifice, and they shall place the abomination that maketh desolate.”

Daniel 12:11 “And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days.”

These are the references in Daniel to the abomination of desolation. As I have written on Daniel 9 in other articles, I am not going to go into the meaning of the seventy weeks here. All that is necessary to know is that each of these references refer to a future event. In the case of Daniel 11:31, it also describes what Antiochus Epiphanes did to the temple, but it also has a second prophetic meaning in that it also describes what the man of perdition will do again. Antiochus Epiphanes was a foreshadow of a larger but similar event. It is this particular verse that lets us know to what the other two verses are referring. When Christ mentioned the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel, the only thing that would have popped into the mind of His disciples would be the historical event that led to the celebration of the holiday of Hanukkah. As the prophecies of Daniel about the end times were sealed until now, they would not understand that those prophecies referred to a second occurrence. It was for us to understand that this is what Christ meant. He said it for us. It is Christ's statement to them when He tells them that one of the signs of His coming would be that the abomination spoken of in Daniel, the one they understood about Antiochus Epiphanes slaughtering a pig on the altar and setting up a statue of Zeus in the holy place, would be that this abomination would be seen to happen again. While they might not understand exactly what He meant, we should. Christ is not obliquely referring to antichrist setting himself up in the hearts of Christians. He is referring to an actual event that will involve the temple, just as it happened before. That is the only way in which He expected His statement to be understood. The term “place,” as in “holy place,” is the Greek word, “topos” which means a physical spot of limited locality and occupancy. When Christ speaks of the holy place, He is referring to the temple, and possibly the holiest place in the temple where the ark was kept. The term “holy place” in Old Testament usage (and Christ would have been using Old Testament terminology in His speech, not using the term "temple" as referring to our bodies and hearts) meant the temple itself. When He told the disciples that when they saw the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel, which to the disciples would mean something akin to the statue of Zeus, stand in the holy place (temple), that they should flee Judea.

Now this word “stand” is the Greek word “histemi” which does not necessarily mean to stand, as  opposed to sitting. It means “stand” as in “to abide, be established, be set up”. So something will be set up or will abide in the temple that is an abomination, just as the statue of Zeus was.

Clearly in this passage, Christ is referring to a physical temple, and a physical idol of some sort set up in that temple. To further verify this idea, we see that these verses in Daniel each have a second reference that accompanies the abomination. Something that also occurred with Antiochus. The sacrifices and oblations were and will again be stopped. Sacrifices refer to animals offerings. Oblations refer to non-animal offerings such as oil, wine, grain, etc. And it says they will be stopped again. Christians today do not offer animal sacrifices or oblations. How then can they be stopped if they are not being offered?  The only conclusion one can get from the clear reading of these passages based upon how Christ told us they should be interpreted (by Daniel's book) is that there will be a temple (this does not have to include the courtyards, but only the main building) and an altar set up on the Temple Mount. One that can be desolated by an abomination.

One last reference that clinches this idea that a temple will be rebuilt is found in Revelation 11:1-2. “And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein. But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months.”

John has been given a vision of the future when the man of perdition will reign on earth. In this vision he is given a rod and told to measure the temple of God. One whose courtyard is being overrun by the Gentiles, as is the city of Jerusalem. This is speaking of something tangible. A temple and a city. Would one be given a rod to measure a single Christian, for clearly the word “temple” is singular. One could say, well it is all figurative speech. Okay, but then he is told to also measure the altar and them that worship therein. People are worshiping inside this temple. Clearly this is a physical temple, with an altar and worshipers. A temple which can be measured. And this is exactly what Daniel has said and what Christ has said. Not only that, but the idea that there would be no courtyards seems to be accurate, for John is told not to measure that area for it is given to the Gentiles to trod underfoot. There will be no courtyards, which given the situation on the Temple Mount makes perfect sense. It could well be a shared space with the Muslims and the Dome of the Rock. While some think this is impossible, let me quote an article on this subject.

Can Third Temple be built without destroying Dome of the Rock? By Matthew Wagner 06/21/2009 Jerusalem Post

Until now Jewish tradition has assumed that destruction of the Dome of the Rock was a precondition for the building of the third and last Temple. However, in an article that appeared in 2007 in Tehumin, an influential journal of Jewish law, Frankel, a young scholar, presented a different option. His main argument is that Jewish doctrine regarding the rebuilding of the Temple emphasizes the role of a prophet. This prophet would have extraordinary authority, including the discretion to specify the Temple's precise location, regardless of any diverging Jewish traditions. Frankel considers the scenario of a holy revelation given to an authentic prophet that the Temple be rebuilt on the current or an extended Temple Mount in peaceful proximity to the dome and other houses of prayer such as the Aksa Mosque and nearby Christian shrines. However, both Muslims and Jews have expressed opposition to the initiative. Sheikh Abdulla Nimar Darwish, founder of the Islamic Movement in Israel, said it was pointless to talk about what would happen when the mahdi, the Muslim equivalent of the messiah, would reveal himself. "Why are we taking upon ourselves the responsibility to decide such things?" Darwish said in a telephone interview with The Jerusalem Post. "Even Jews believe that it is prohibited to rebuild the Temple until the messiah comes. So what is there to talk about. "The mahdi will decide whether or not to rebuild the Temple. If he decides that it should be rebuilt, I will go out to the Temple Mount and help carry the rocks." Darwish warned against any attempt to rebuild the Temple before the coming of the mahdi.”

I find this article intensely interesting in that both parties say that if a Messiah type were to come with the authority of God, they would both concede peace and the temple would be built alongside the Dome of the Rock. That this position could be filled by the man of perdition is stating the obvious. The antichrist will present himself as the world's Messiah. To the Jews he will be the Jewish Messiah. To the Muslims he will be the Mahdi. He will fulfill all the roles needed.

So it seems clear that there will be a physical temple rebuilt that can be desolated by an abomination. And that sacrifices that will at some point begin, will be stopped.

Now we look again to the verse in 2 Thessalonians. “so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.” The man of perdition will sit in the temple declaring himself to be God. We find that there might be more to it than this. In Revelation 13:14-15 “And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live. And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.” It does not state that this image will be set up in the temple, but we know that the man of perdition will set himself up as God in the temple.

Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?

Now Paul shows his frustration with them. He asks them if they remember that he went over all this when he was there with them. He taught them the Olivet Discourse. Obviously they were not listening. I sympathize with Paul. As a teacher I know how frustrating it is to teach something and find out that the student has paid no attention and has learned nothing. And in Paul's case it is crucial information. Information about the end times. This is important information that they were to teach others. This is not just a school subject. This is information about our future, about salvation and the Coming of the Lord, and the terrible time that will precede it.

And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time.”

This is also a debated phrase. What exactly is it that withholdeth the antichrist from coming into power? Well, we know from this passage that he is called the man of perdition, and that only one other has had that moniker, Judas. And why did Judas have that title? Because he was indwelt by Satan. It seems to be the consensus that the son of perdition will be inhabited by Satan at the time he sits in the temple declaring himself God. I do not know if it is an actual possession by Satan, or as God has a Son, so Satan has spawned an offspring which he can control. Angels do have that ability as we know from Genesis. So, what precipitates Satan taking control of the man of sin? It appears that he finally gets thrown out of heaven for good.

Revelation 12:7-9 “And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.”

We find this mentioned in the Old Testament as well in the book of Daniel 12:1 “And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.” The context of both passages show that this war between Michael and his angels and Satan and his angels occurs at the time of the abomination of desolation. We see in another passage in Scripture that it appears that Michael is Satan's adversary. Jude 9 “Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.”

In the verse in Daniel 12 it says that Michael shall stand up. We are used to the phrase “stand up” meaning literally to rise from a seated position. But this is not how this Hebrew term “amad” is used in chapters 11 and 12. Throughout the chapters it means “to arise, stand by, stand firm, and stand still” for a few definitions. It is highly doubtful that Michael sits around in heaven and only at this point stands up to do battle. He does battle constantly, as he appears to be a comparable angel in position and power to Satan, being an archangel. He is also the angel who oversees Israel. So it would appear that it is Michael who is Satan's equal and adversary (he is not Christ's equal) and who does battle with Satan and restrains him from doing what he would like to do, especially to Israel.

The passage in Thessalonians tells us that we should know who withholds or restrains Satan, who will be taken out of the way so that Satan can vent his wrath full force. When it says that Michael stands up, it means that after he throws Satan out of heaven, he stands still or stands by and just watches. God is allowing Satan to have full reign, so Michael can no longer dispute or battle with him. He no longer tries to restrain him. Michael is told to stand aside and let Satan have his way. Most people believe it is the Holy Spirit and will not accept this interpretation, but Scripture does bear out that Michael is the one who does battle with him. The Holy Spirit is never once in Scripture said to have the job of restraining or battling Satan. That is not His job. It is the Holy Spirit's job to indwell, guide, lead, and so forth, us. The only reason the assumption has been made that it must be the Holy Spirit is that this verse is approached with a preconceived doctrine (pre-trib rapture) which then creates a bias toward interpreting it that way, so that the theory can be validated. That is not the way Scripture should be understood. We do not bring out theory to the Scriptures and make them say what we want to validate our theory. We read the Scriptures and understand what it says and build our theory from there. The only Scriptural connection between Satan, the man of perdition, and the lifting of restraint is the Michael connection. Therefore we need to lean on the side of Scripture and accept that the apparent restrainer is Michael.

And just to show that the theory that it is the Holy Spirit cannot be right, those who believe it is the Holy Spirit being removed in a pre-trib rapture, then say that untold numbers will come to the Lord during this time. How can they, if it is the Holy Spirit who reveals and draws us to the Lord and He is removed? Since Christ returned to heaven, He has sent the Holy Spirit to indwell believers. It is through the Spirit that we have the strength to endure. Without Him, which is what this theory insists, how could people believe and how could they endure? Common sense tells us that this cannot possibly be a right interpretation given what the Scriptures teach about the Holy Spirit's job in our lives.

For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.”

The passage continues with information about the restrainer being removed. It says that this evil is already at work, and that he that “letteth” which in Greek actually means “hold down” not “allow” as we think of the word “let,” will continue to hold him down until he is told to stop doing so. The way it is worded is that the restrainer is taken out of the way by God. But the Holy Spirit is God. He doesn't take Himself out of the way by removing His presence from Christians and leaving them alone to face this horror without the Comforter. He takes someone else out of the way. Again this would seem to point the finger at Michael as he is told to stand still.

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:

It is at this time that the “Wicked” or “anomos” which means “the lawless” (as in not subjecting himself to God's laws) will be revealed. It has already been discussed that at the abomination of desolation that the son of perdition will be controlled by Satan and declare himself God. Up until this point, people may not realize exactly who this man is. It is when he is no longer restrained and declares himself that he is revealed for who he really is.

When Christ comes at the end of Daniel's 70th week, he will destroy the son of perdition. We find this is foretold in Revelation 19:11-20 also. “And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS. And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God; That ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great. And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army. And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.”

Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,”

It has already been discussed that this son of perdition will be performing miracles and now Paul tells us that those miracles are the work of Satan. He will have all kinds of supernatural power and perform lying signs and wonders to convince people he is God.

And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie.”

Paul tells us that the unrighteous will be deceived and will perish. This is because when they have heard the gospel (And the entire world will have heard the truth of the gospel. Matthew 24:14 “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.”), they have rejected it or fallen away from it. Because they have rejected the truth, God will send them a delusion that is so believable that they will believe it. And consequently they will believe that the son of perdition is God and will take his mark and condemn themselves to an eternity in hell.

What is important in this verse that many tend to completely miss is that God says that during this time, what time?.... the time of tribulation, when the son of perdition will declare himself God after the abomination, those who have not believed in the gospel, will not believe. The idea of 144,000 evangelists bringing thousands upon thousands of people into God's fold of believers is totally against what God has said will happen. People will not be accepting the truth, as they will believe the lie, because that is what God has ordained. Now, we know there will be people who go into the millennium who have not taken the mark, but are not a part of the Church. How can that be? There are people who do believe in God the Father (Jews in particular) and worship Him, but do not know Christ. These people will not believe the lie, because they do believe in God the Creator, God the Father, the God of the Bible. They may not have a personal relationship with Him through Christ, but they have a head and heart belief in the Father, and this keeps them from believing the lie. There will probably also be conspiracy theorists and survivalists among some of these people, besides the Jews. And if the son of perdition presents himself as an “alien”, there are those who will refuse to bow down to him because they will not accept an “alien” as their god. And it must not be forgotten, that not all of Israel are Jews. The ten tribes have co-mingled themselves into the Gentile nations. Some of them no doubt still believe in the God of Abraham. So while they are not followers of Yeshua or Jesus, they will not believe the delusion, for they do believe in the truth of the God of the Bible.

So we can see that Paul is simply re-teaching us the Olivet Discourse here. The events occur in the same order that Jesus taught them. The reference to the man of sin by Paul is an apt description of the one in Daniel, which Christ referenced for us to understand what this event would be. These two passages go hand in hand and completely agree with each other, as Scripture generally does. It is very clear to see for those with eyes to see and ears to hear. Hopefully for anyone who has not seen this truth yet, may your eyes now be opened to the truth and may you continue to seek out the rest of the truth so that you are spiritually prepared for what lies ahead.

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