Summary: A look at the 2nd Coming of Christ
INTRO: The purpose of Bible prophecy is not for us to make a calendar, but to build character. Date-setters are usually upsetters, and that’s what happened in the Thessalonican church.
Someone had deceived the believers into thinking they were already living in the Day of the Lord. The believers were shaken by this teaching, and continued to be deeply troubled.
To calm their hearts and steady their faith, Paul explained that they were not in the Day of the Lord. The reason was simple. That Day would not arrive until certain other events had taken place. Paul then stated for them the prophetic events that make up God’s timetable.
I. THE RAPTURE OF THE CHURCH (vv. 1, 6-7).
Once the church is out of the world, Satan and his forces will unfold their program. The Day of the Lord is the period that follows the rapture of the church. It will be a time of tribulation for the people on earth. Satan and his hosts will be working on earth, and God will send righteous judgments from Heaven. Revelation chapters 6-19 describe this period for us.
Why is Satan unable to reveal his “man of sin” (v. 3) sooner? Because God is restraining the forces of evil in the world today. Satan cannot do whatever he wants to do, whenever he pleases.
Who or what is this restrainer? The restrainer is a person who is today “in the midst,” but will one day be “taken out of the midst” (v. 7).
Most identify this restrainer as the Holy Spirit. When the church is raptured, the Holy Spirit will be taken out of the midst to allow Satan and his forces to go to work.
In spite of its weakness and seeming failure, never underestimate the importance of the church in the world. People who criticize the church do not realize that the presence of the church in this world gives unsaved people opportunity to be saved. The presence of the church is delaying the coming of judgment.
II. THE REVELATION OF ANTICHRIST (vv. 3-5, 8a).
Paul did not use the term Antichrist in his letter. This term is used in the N.T. only by John. But this is the name we use to identify the last great world dictator Paul designated as “that man of sin,” “the son of perdition,” and “that lawless one” (v. 3).
Satan has been at war with God ever since he, as Lucifer, rebelled against God and tried to capture God’s throne.
The Greek prefix anti has two meanings: against, and instead of. Satan not only opposes Christ, but he wants to be worshiped and obeyed instead of Christ.
The Bible gives us the following description of Antichrist in the last days.
1. - The Peacemaker (Rev. 6:1-2). Certainly, this man will be on the scene before the rapture of the church. He will be a peaceful political leader who unites 10 nations of Europe into a strong power block.
2. - The Protector (Dan. 9:24-27).
First, notice that this prophecy applies to Israel, Jerusalem, and the temple, and not to the church.
Second, it announces the time when Messiah will come and accomplish certain purposes for the Jewish people.
Finally, note that there is a parenthesis between the 69th and the 70th week. We are now living in that parenthesis. The 69th week ended with the ministry of Christ. The 70th week will start with the arrival of the Antichrist.
3. - The Peace-Breaker (Dan. 9:27). After three and one-half years, Antichrist will break his covenant with the Jews and take over their temple. This was what Paul meant by “the falling away.” A better translation would be “the rebellion or apostasy.” The “falling away” occurs during the Tribulation.
4. - The Persecutor (Rev. 13:15-17). Most people agree that the abomination of desolation will occur three and one-half years after the Antichrist makes his covenant with the Jews. This will usher in a period of intense persecution and tribulation.
5. - The Prisoner (Rev. 19:11-21). Satan will not be permitted to control the world forever. Jesus will return in power and glory and take Satan, Antichrist, and his helpers prisoner and cast them into the bottomless pit.
III. THE RETURN OF JESUS CHRIST (vv. 8-12).
This is His return to the earth in glory and judgment. It will occur at the end of the seven-year Tribulation period. This judgment will have two parts.
1. - His Judgment of Antichrist (vv. 8-9). Jesus will judge Antichrist by “the Spirit of His mouth...and the brightness of His coming” (i.e. slay with the breath of His mouth).
2. - His Judgment of the Unsaved (vv. 10-12). It should be noted that these people had an opportunity to believe and be saved during the tribulation. God has no delight in judging the lost (see 2 Peter 3:9).