“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” (2 Thess. 2:7).
The number of emails I receive from people who are discouraged, frustrated, even despondent, is steadily increasing. They point to current conditions in the world and wonder how much worse things can get.
You no longer have to be an astute observer to notice how rapidly our world is changing. It wasn’t that long ago when the standard measure was a comparison between what was acceptable to people in their time with what was acceptable in their grandparents’ time. Now we only have to compare what’s currently acceptable with what was acceptable just a few years ago to see measurable change. Not only are things changing, but the rate of change is accelerating.
A person with discernment can’t help but see a supernatural component in all this. It’s true that the heart of man is incurably wicked (Jeremiah 17:9) but these days society seems to be under a compulsion to see just how wicked they can become.
All around us we see God’s laws being conspicuously broken, His word being stifled, and His people, both Jewish and Christian, being persecuted. It’s like it doesn’t matter how twisted something is, as long as it’s a slap in God’s face, it’s bound to catch on.
This obviously couldn’t be happening without man’s active participation, but I’m becoming convinced there’s more to it than a natural progression of things. I think there’s growing evidence of a malevolent power accelerating this and to me that means the time during which the restrainer holds back the secret power of lawlessness (2 Thess. 2:7) is rapidly drawing to a close.
That Day Should Not Surprise You
If you keep up with Christian or even conservative news instead of just relying on the main stream media, none of what I’m describing is new to you. You’ve already seen the increase in frequency and intensity of the things Jesus called “birth pangs” in Matt. 24:4-8. And you’re aware of the same kind of destructive changes taking place in society.
As one example among many, our country was founded primarily on principles of religious freedom, but today, of all the religions practiced in America, only Christians are seeing their freedom of expression restricted. Laws have already been passed that limit our right to adhere to Biblical principles and more are coming.
These laws began with prohibiting school prayer, then municipalities were made to stop erecting Christmas displays. These laws have gotten progressively more restrictive until now individual Christians risk being prosecuted simply for living according to their beliefs.
The Bible tells us we can expect these trends to continue. Speaking of the time before the Rapture, Jesus had this to say to the Church:
“I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name” (Rev. 3:8).
At the end of the Age the commendation Jesus will have for the Church (although we have little strength), we will have kept His word and not denied His name. The Greek word translated “strength” also means “power or ability.” As the end of our time here approaches we will no longer have much influence in the world, but we will have kept His word and not denied His name. For that He promised us two blessings.
“I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars-I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you” (Rev. 3:9).
A large component of Christianity believes that when Israel rejected the Messiah they gave up any right to the future promises God had made to them, and those promises were transferred to the Church. This belief is called supersessionism or replacement theology, and is the reason why many Christians believe the Church is now spiritual Israel, heirs to Israel’s destiny. Supersessionists believe the very existence of Israel in our time is in defiance of God’s Word.
But Jesus said these people are liars and He would make them bow down at our feet and admit that He loves us.
“Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth” (Rev. 3:10).
The Lord also promised that because we’ve kept His command to endure patiently, He will keep us from the hour of trial that’s coming upon the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth.
The hour of trial refers to the end times judgments of Daniel’s 70th Week, the only time since the Great Flood when the Lord will subject the whole world to a judgment. And right now is the only time since He said that when all the signs we’ve been given to alert us to this coming judgment are in some stage of fulfillment.
The Greek word translated “from” in Rev. 3:10 means “out of the time, place, or cause” of the end times judgments. We won’t be here when they happen and we won’t be here where they happen, because we’re not the reason they’ll be happening.
This Too Shall Pass?
Many people see the times in which we live as a temporary situation. They think if we just humble ourselves and pray, the Lord will preserve us through them and then everything will go back to being okay again.
But the Bible speaks of a time when that won’t be the case. At the end of the age the world will be subject to a series of judgments unlike any other and if the Lord didn’t return at the appointed time not a single human would survive it (Matt. 24:22). All indications are that we aren’t approaching one of the temporary periods of hard times that we’re used to, but literally the end of the world as we know it.
One of the signs that this is true is that the world will suddenly become more rebellious toward God and the love of people toward one another will turn cold. Paul said:
“There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God-having a form of godliness but denying its power” (2 Tim. 3:1-5)
This alone tells us that evil is on the ascendancy and we’re not just going through a temporary rough patch but are headed straight for the time of judgment.
And that means two things; 1) Born-again Christians are going to become less and less comfortable here, and 2) the time of our departure is drawing near.
Jesus said His Kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36) and that means we who are part of His kingdom are not of this world either. Paul said our citizenship is in heaven and we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ (Phil. 3:20). When Jesus comes for us, He won’t be coming to be with us here where we are, He will be coming to take us to be with Him in His Father’s house where He is (John 14:2-3).
I believe one purpose of this ascendancy of evil is to divest us of all our misguided notions that this world is our home. It never has been our home, and it never will be. If it has been a pleasant place for us, that’s just a measure of God’s grace. And if it’s steadily becoming less so, that’s an indication that our stay here is just about over.
In the meantime our prayer should not be that God will make this world more comfortable for us, but that He would hasten to take us to our real home, where we will enjoy every conceivable comfort forever.
One of the Lord’s great promises to us is that when we see all these signs of the end times judgments begin to happen we should stand up and lift up our heads because our redemption is drawing near (Luke 21:28). That means every advance of evil in the world brings the day of our departure that much closer.
I’m not saying that we should celebrate the ascendancy of evil in the world. But I am saying that it shouldn’t come as a surprise to us that all this is happening (1 Thess. 5:4). It’s something the Bible has warned us about and its arrival is one more sign that our time here is drawing to a close, and we’ll be going home soon. Therefore encourage one another with these words (1 Thess. 4:18).