Summary: An exposition of 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12 with particular focus on the characteristics of the man of lawlessness
When is Jesus coming back?
In 2000 a movie came out called “Left Behind”. This movie was based upon Tim LaHaye’s very popular, fictional series entitled “Left Behind”. For those of you that don’t know, Tim LaHaye writes fictional stories about the end times and the return of Jesus.
Here’s the plot summary for LaHaye’s movie
“Rayford Steele is an airline pilot whose relationship with his wife has gone sour; she responds by devoting more of her time and energy to the church, while he ponders having an affair with an attractive flight attendant. In the midst of a flight to London, a number of the passengers mysteriously disappear, and chaos takes hold as a number of vehicles on the ground and in the air are suddenly unmanned. Meanwhile, Buck Williams, a television journalist, is pondering the rash of sudden disappearances as he works on a report about Dr. Rosenzweig, an Israeli scientist who has devised a formula that would make any soil on earth easy to cultivate. However, Buck wonders if there’s more to Rosenzweig than he first imagined when he discovers the doctor is in cahoots with two multi-millionaires who plan to broker the invention to promote their own agenda of international domination.”
Despite the convoluted plot, more than 25 million copies of this video were sold.
1. Christians, and rightfully so, have a keen interest in the return of Jesus and what is going to happen in the days leading up to the end of the world.
2. The ability to separate fact from fiction and what is false from the truth, is an important skill that Christians need to learn
I. The reason I have come to you this morning talking about the “Left Behind” series that Tim Lahaye wrote is because the Thessalonian Christians came to believe that Jesus had returned and that they had been left behind.
Note and read 2 Thessalonians 2:1-3a – which proves this point
“Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers, 2 not 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. 3 Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way,…”
As the text tells us, the Thessalonian Christians were duped into believing that Jesus had come back, taken the Christians with him, and that the last days were unfolding right before their eyes. In short, they fell for the lie of the evil one, “hook, line, and sinker”.
The Thessalonians were so badly deceived that they were on edge. The “news” that Jesus had returned, and the thought that he hadn’t taken them to be with him, had turned their world upside down. For a moment in time they had lost their senses.
II. The Scriptures teach us that many false messages of Jesus’ return will abound
“At that time if anyone says to you, `Look, here is the Christ!’ or, `Look, there he is!’ do not believe it. For false Christ’s and false prophets will appear and perform signs and miracles to deceive the elect--if that were possible. 23 So be on your guard; I have told you everything ahead of time” Mark 13:21-22
We are not to be deceived about the coming of Jesus!
Unfortunately some already have been deceived: i.e 7th Day Adventists teach that Jesus made an invisible return in the 1800’s. Over the years many have tried to set dates.
III. We know that Jesus has not yet returned because the man of lawlessness has not yet been revealed
In our text for today, Paul reassures the Thessalonians that Jesus had not already returned and left them behind by reminding them (v.5) that the one the Scriptures call “The man of lawlessness” had not yet come.
In Revelation this man is called “The Beast”. In 1 John he is called “The Antichrist”. In the book of Daniel he is spoken of as being a “king” with a kingdom.
You and I likewise know that Jesus has not returned and that the world’s history is not about to close quite yet, because this man of lawlessness, this final king, this beast, this one called the Antichrist, has not yet come to power.
Who is this man of lawlessness? How will we be able to recognize him?
I cannot and will not supply you with any names or guesses. Such would not be proper, particularly since the identity of the man of lawlessness will become crystal clear one day.
Many types of this man, in localized ways, have already appeared. Many more will come too. i.e Lenin, Mao, Castro, various dictators and despots.