Image Credit: Air&Space Magazine
These Are the Final Days of ‘The Restrainer.’
“And now you know what is restraining him [from being revealed at this time]; it is so that he may be manifested [revealed] in his own [appointed] time. For the mystery of lawlessness [that hidden principle of rebellion against constituted authority] is already at work in the world, but it is restrained only until he who restrains is taken out of the way” (2 Thess. 2:6-7, Amplified (Classic) Bible).
The words “Twilight’s Last Gleaming” from Francis Scott Key’s poem memorializing the British siege of Baltimore, and the battle for Fort McHenry in 1814, stand out as one of the most classic of American phrases—precisely so because it suggests both the end and the beginning of two periods of time in which certain incredibly important symbols are least, but also most critically, visible.
It is the last vestige of twilight, the very last gleaming of the day.
Note carefully how Key asks, in modern English, “Tell me—can you still see the flag this morning?” Old Glory indeed remained at dawn; it was last visible and celebrated at the last light of the previous day. If the flag was still flying by morning, the Royal Navy had failed despite their overwhelming bombardment of Fort McHenry. Though repeatedly perforated and held aloft at the cost of many American lives, the flag was evidence that the encroaching British Empire had not succeeded—and would never succeed—at extinguishing human freedom from North America. The British Empire’s second attempt in 50 years to stamp out self-governance in its former American colonies had failed.
And that is the singular appeal for Americans who treasure the poetry by Key that would eventually be adopted by Congress as the U.S. National Anthem in 1930.
The nation’s flag, national anthem, and other essential markers of Americanism were on full display today in Washington, D.C., as many thousands gathered to protest the rampant lawlessness occurring across the country. Perhaps most importantly, the Church was present there as well. Prayers and worship were offered up in the name of Christ, with the agreement of Jewish leaders and the assent of many others in an amazing, glorious attempt to reconcile the United States with its history and its God. I could not have imagined, before today, seeing something so thrilling and yet so heartbreaking.
It was, and is, the last gleaming.
But what can godly patriots who value the Constitution do when the very institutions created to safeguard it fail?
What can we do when judges, elected officials in the Executive and Representative branches—and career bureaucrats under them—all violate their oaths of office? What recourse do we have when the private sector is consolidated to the degree that our society is reduced to an oligarchy that controls almost all commerce, information access and ability to communicate? Where do we turn when a global pestilence has been used to create planetary house arrest and worldwide poverty? What path do we take when all laws and reason are cast aside—when all bonds of common fellowship and civil governance are abandoned because those with money and power value only more money and power?
A part of me wants to take up both metal and mettle. I know what it is to fight physically. I understand that the founders of this nation, including some of my direct ancestors who declared their allegiance to each other in self-governance and reliance on the Lord Jesus Christ 400 years ago on the Mayflower and others who fought the War of Independence in the 1770s, made difficult choices and endured unspeakable sacrifices in service to that vision. So many Americans and our friends in other nations have labored and suffered mightily so that vision could be realized.
But the Mayflower Compact (four of its signatories were my ancestors), the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution and Bill of Rights, despite their collectively being the cultural backbone of the United States, are not the Word of God.
“The Word of God remains forever” (1 Peter 1:25).
Everything else, including the United States of America, is mortal and subject to degeneration and decay. “The world and everything in it is passing away,” as John wrote (1 Jn. 2:17)—the Greek paragō means that even my beloved nation and its institutions have been fading away since they were first envisioned. While Isaiah wrote of Israel’s desolation being the proximate result of their abandonment of their covenant with Yahweh, it may just as well be applied to the United States (24:4-5):
“The land and the earth mourn and wither, the world languishes and withers, the high ones of the people [and the heavens with the earth] languish. The land and the earth also are defiled by their inhabitants, because they have transgressed the laws, disregarded the statutes, and broken the everlasting covenant.”
Casting aside laws and covenants always produces a rapid onset of disorder and suffering. This has always been so ever since the Luciferian rebellion and will be so until the conclusion of the Millennial Reign of Christ. You can’t get something for nothing. Choices have consequences. Sin always produces destruction; and—no matter how fervently humans will strive for it to be otherwise—apart from God, there’s no remedy for any of this.
And so I mourn as I write these words. My heart thrills not; no, it breaks. But all of this points to a greater reality.
As much as I love these United States of America, my true and eternal citizenship is in my Father’s House. My ultimate loyalty must be to my Maker and his only begotten Son. My deepest inspiration must come from the Holy Spirit Himself.
And the Spirit Himself, dwelling in each and every believer now living on the face of the earth, is the One Who keeps that Luciferian rebellion, that eons-in-the-making global war against the Son of God, under control. “You are the light of the world,” Christ declared (Matt. 5:14).
But now, in the last month of 2020, a broader encroachment threatens; it is a darker twilight, coming against not just a young nation, but against all of humanity. The Apostle Paul wrote his second letter to his disciples in Thessalonica (A.D.52-53) concerning this invasion of evil. It had already been long at work in the world. In the context of 1 Thessalonians, Paul declared that the “hidden working of lawlessness,” already in play, would rise in power and visibility until the Church is “taken out of the way” (2 Thess. 2:7) so that the Lawless One would then—and only then—be able to fully rise up and take control.
A short study of 2 Thess. 2:7 reveals several remarkable things concerning the time, placement, and role of the Church and possibly puts the current crisis in the United States into a very encouraging, Biblical, context. The phrase “taken out of the way” (γίνεσθαι ἐκ μέσου) reveals three components when unpacked from the koiné Greek:
- Taken (ginomai, to be picked up and placed);
- “out of” (ek, literally “out and away from”; removed altogether and kept separate from);
- “the way” (mesos, literally “the middle,” or an intermediate position/role)
Reassembled with these meanings, the passage clearly means that the Church is the unstoppable agency that the Father has employed to subjugate demonic activity in the world. But every created actor and role has a beginning and end (Eccl. 3:1).
The power of the Holy Spirit, in and through the Church, has suppressed the complete expression of Satan’s rebellion and domination of the world since the Church’s inception on the day of Pentecost after the resurrection of Christ. God has put the Church between Himself and the world; He has worked both wisely and unremittingly, calling to, and then through us, inviting whosoever will to come to Christ. The law of the Spirit of life in Christ (Rom. 8:2) has kept the sneaking but pervasive activity of lawlessness in check. The Church of Christ has, in the “Church Age,” been God’s “firebreak” between the world He so loves and the flames of perdition.
But this arrangement (kosmos, order of things) will soon change. The Church must be removed from our intermediary relationship with the world. We will literally be picked up (hence Paul’s use of the verb harpazo in 1 Thess. 4:17: quickly seized and removed) and placed and kept away from this world (kosmos).
The Bridegroom, the “Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a loud cry of summons, with the shout of an archangel, and with the blast of the trumpet of God” (1 Thess. 4:16) to gather His bride!
As children of the light (Eph. 5:8), we have been placed by our Father in an intermediary position between this world and those in it and God Himself. Our Father reaches out to those in this world through us (2 Cor. 5:20). His light, shining in and through us, holds the dark lawlessness at bay. But the day is fading; twilight is upon us.
The hour is late, and the frameworks upon which much of the world has built its identities and allegiances are transitioning into the foundation for Daniel’s seventieth week. Even as this change is manifestly underway, God shines the light of His Son through us. Twilight’s red skies are the scarlet blood Christ shed for the world’s redemption in Him.
And, as long as we are here, we are the gleaming.
Jeffrey C. Ady, Ph.D.
December 12, 2020