Summary: There are 2 days of highest concern in Scripture and in our lives: 1. The Day of the Lord, which this msg deals with, and 2. ToDAY - What you do with today will influence your part in the Lord's Day of Judgment.
Keeping the Faith!
2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 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 Thessalonians 2:6-12 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. 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 the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, 10 and in every sort of evil that 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.
Intro: Last week we looked at the first 5 verses of 2 Thess. 2. We focused on the fact that God does not forget people. The Thessalonian Christians had not been forgotten by God and left to suffer alone to no avail. They had not been left behind. The Day of the Lord had not arrived b/c certain things had not yet happened, which apparently Paul had taught them about when he first brought the good news about Jesus to them.
In v.5 Paul says, “Don't you remember that when I was with you I used to tell you these things?” Well, we do not know exactly what Paul told them about the Man of Lawlessness, the great rebellion or apostasy, or the Day of the Lord, but he had given them some ongoing teaching for about 3 weeks, as he taught in the synagogue before he went on to Berea and then Athens. Most scholars point out that even though we cannot be sure what all these things meant that Paul wrote about, it appears that the Thessalonians knew exactly what he was talking about.
-Some teachers read these verses and say they all happened in the first century. The coming Day of the Lord was simply judgment against the Jews for breaking their covenant with God. They say this Day of the Lord was one of many in history when God poured out His judgment on various nations. In AD 70 Jerusalem was overthrown, the temple was destroyed, and that was the Day of the Lord referred to by Paul. The rebellion or apostasy was thought to be the Jewish Revolt against Rome (the restrainer), led by some Jewish political figure, who is the man of lawlessness. Others identify the Emperor Nero as the man of lawlessness, who figuratively sets himself up over God’s temple as God.
-It is not my purpose today to debunk these other theories. But I do feel compelled to offer a response to the false accusation that the idea of a pre-trib rapture was never taught or considered until the 1800’s. Some scholars identify various early church fathers teaching on this: Irenaeus (around 125 AD) -- And therefore, when in the end the Church shall be suddenly caught up from this, it is said, “There shall be tribulation such as has not been since the beginning, neither shall be ....” The most explicit of these came from Ephraem the Syrian in 373 AD: "For all the saints and Elect of God are gathered, prior to the tribulation that is to come, and are taken to the Lord lest they see the confusion that is to overwhelm the world because of our sins." There are a few more early church fathers who wrote of a pre-trib rapture or translating of believers (Clement, Polycarp, Shepherd of Hermes, and a few others).
-Now you might be wondering why I’m taking the time to defend the pre-tribulational rapture. What difference does it make when it happens? (That question is easy to ask from our comfort zones, but might sound different if we were actually facing intense suffering. All I can say is that I believe it is Biblical, and that it is our blessed hope! And I believe our passage today should be understood in light of it. I don’t claim to have all the answers, but I do find plenty of evidence that gives me hope that Jesus could come for us at any second!