Summary: 9th in the series "Left Behind: 1 & 2 Thessalonians" Topic is avoiding deception in the end times.
After 14 years of studying the Bible, William Miller became convinced that Christ would return in 1843. When Miller
announced April 3 as the day, some disciples went to mountaintops, hoping for a head start to heaven. Others were in graveyards, planning to ascend in reunion with their departed loved ones. Philadelphia society ladies clustered together outside town to avoid entering God’s kingdom amid the common herd. When April 4 dawned as usual the Millerites were disillusioned, but they took heart. Their leader had predicted a range of dates for Christ’s return. They still had until March 21, 1844. The devout continued to make ready, but again they were disappointed. A third date--October 22, 1844--was set, but it also passed. Today in the Word, December 20, 1991.
Perhaps you remember the book 88 reasons…
Many people were swayed and confused by these end time teachings, and ultimately many turned not only from faith in those predictions but also from faith in Jesus.
This is a big part of the reason that we need to have a good foundation of what the Bible teaches about the end times and a firm grasp upon our faith.
In our text today Paul writes to a church who has become confused once again about the end times and he writes to set them straight.
The question for us is “How do we avoid confusion in the midst of the last days?”
In today’s chapter I think we’ll see three important things to guard against.
1. We must not be Dismayed
1Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers, 2not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us, saying that the day of the Lord has already come.
Apparently the church at Thessalonica, or some members of it, has become dismayed because a rumor has circulated that the “Day of the Lord” has come and gone and they’ve missed it. Paul seems to suggest that a letter or a report has falsely been sent in Paul’s name. Paul says—remain calm. That’s not true.
Mayor Richard J. Daley, defending the actions of policemen during the Democratic convention in 1968: "Get this thing straight once and for all. The policeman isn’t there to create disorder. The policeman is there to preserve disorder."
The job of the enemy of our souls is to preserve disorder in the church, over the years one of his favorite methods is causing confusion about the end times.
Granted, this can be a confusing topic. And even our text today has some room for various interpretations, but I think at least one thing is clear in these first two verses.
First, you’re not going to “Miss” the Lord’s return if you’re trusting in Jesus—you don’t have to wonder about that. Your salvation is based upon what Christ did and the fact that you are trusting in Him. The Day of the Lord isn’t going to come secretly and OOOPS you’ve missed it.
With regard to the Lords return and specifically with regard to teaching about it don’t be dismayed.
Secondly, in the last days we must take care that we..
2. Are not be Deceived
3Don’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. 4He 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.
Don’t let yourself be deceived about the Lord’s return.
Now what does this mean about the man of lawlessness and a rebellion before the day of the Lord? Well that’s open to interpretation:
Some believe that means that the antichrist will be revealed and the time known as the tribulation will occur before the Lord returns for His church.
Others believe that only part of the tribulation will occur—the antichrist will be revealed and a time of great suffering and a time of rebellion will take place before the Lord takes away his church after which the Lord will pour out His wrath (the final portion of the tribulation.
Still others believe that the force which is holding back the lawlessness in verse seven is the church and the Lord will come and rapture his church before the antichrist is revealed and the rebellion and tribulation occur while the church is with Christ in heaven. Those who believe this distinguish between the rapture and the second coming (Day of the Lord).
I am one who tends to believe the latter—however—this text still is a bit problematic, because if that’s the case, Paul reassuring the people that the man of lawlessness must be revealed before the “Day of the Lord” doesn’t seem to reaaly speak to their concern that they might have missed it.