Was the Apostle Paul a prophet? Did he foretell anything of the future having to do with God’s plans for the age? What could he have meant when he reported, after being left for dead from a stoning at Lystra, “How he was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter” (2 Corinthians 12:4)? No doubt but that he learned prophecy there, firsthand!
Therefore, when Paul writes of events to come in the future, such as in 2 Thessalonians 2 of a “falling away of lawfulness,” we can count on it being a prophetic revelation. Along with that passage, the prior letter to the Thessalonians also bears some weighty prophetic revelations that can be counted on for our future, as well. There, we are told of the coming removal of the saints from the path of God’s wrath upon the unbelieving, an event called the Rapture.
The 2 Thessalonians 2:3 passage says, “Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day [of the Lord] will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition.”
It goes on to say, in verses 6-7, “And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way.” Being taken out of the way of that lawless one’s progress of evil means that those righteous ones in whom dwells the Spirit of God are gone, departed from the earth and with the Lord.
This lawless one is identified as one who eventually, then, is able to assume a position in the temple and claim that he is God and demand that all must worship him. For background on this, let’s go to Daniel 9:26-27:
“And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself; and the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end of it shall be with a flood, and till the end of the war desolations are determined. Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week, but in the middle of the week he shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, even until the consummation, which is determined, is poured out on the desolate.”
Several things are brought together in these two verses. Earlier in Daniel 9 is the declaration of a 70-week punishment of God upon the Jews for their rebellion, but the count stops at 69 weeks. (These are, strangely, weeks of years, that is, one “day” of the week is one year, so that the real count is seven years for each week.) Thus, there is the final 70th week not yet accounted for, and no other possibility remains but the seven-year treaty that is confirmed by this coming “prince” of the heritage of the Roman army, which destroyed Jerusalem and the temple in 70 A.D.
Note, now, what he does, according to Daniel’s account, where he confirms that covenant, then breaks it after halfway through it. Then he desolates the temple by standing in it and declaring himself God and demanding that all worship him. Fast-forward to 2 Thessalonians 2, now, and see what Paul reports will happen in the future—a repeat of Daniel’s prophecy. This desolation of the temple is done in the future by the clear action of an identified person, the Antichrist. The claim that the temple is made desolate by an abomination brought on at its destruction in 70 A.D. is a figment of imagination by the false teachers who twist the Scriptures to support their preconceived ideas of how God’s plan should come about. Imagine someone declaring himself God and demanding worship while the temple he is standing in is being torn down by Roman soldiers?
This lawless one, the Antichrist, will not be some obscure person from the shadows of Europe and the old Roman nation; he merely has the heritage of that ancient nation. That also is not a likely appearance of such a person, for how does he acquire the authority to confirm a covenant with many? And then, declare an end to its fulfillment at mid-term? He will be a well-known, fully accepted person whom the world will welcome as their leader when the whole world of believers is taken away in the Rapture. One such person has already been identified as having been “primed” to lead [them] into a New World Order.
The Jewish people who remain behind will believe he is the Messiah, for he makes an effort to befriend them with a peace covenant and allows their rebuilding of the temple. (It is not yet restored, as you recall, but the Jews have fully prepared for its rebuilding.) Remember, the Jews are not looking for a Messiah with nail holes in His hands.
But, how soon will these things come to pass? What about this current degradation of the world’s morality and lawfulness, the defiance of justice for all, and the demand of the immorality of the LBGTQ+ Perversion faction for equality recognition? Is it just another wave of evil like those of the past—if there were any like this?
I contend that this is the time of the end, just as predicted by Daniel, Paul, and even Jesus, who said, “When these things begin to happen, look up, for your redemption draws near” (Luke 21:28). The demands of evil people are universal and unrelenting, even permeating the highest governmental levels in many countries. The freedom of believing in God is fast losing favor among the nations, and declaring the claims of the gospel that believing it will change one’s life for the better is already essentially illegal in Canada and is looming closer in Britain. “Conversion counseling” it is called and is termed illegal in many USA states.
The collection of end-time events is bunching up, and it is hard to sort out which is coming next. We do know that this “falling away” is real and racing like so many lemmings to the destruction that can only be the end result. As righteousness is rejected and the reign of Satanic behavior multiplies, there can only be that result. “The thief only comes to steal, kill and destroy,” Jesus said in John 10:10.
We know from Scripture, now, that when this time of “falling away” comes to its climax, believers will be taken away to the Lord, and the remaining world will be in great dismay and terror with terrible conditions for survival. It will come at a time when the secular world will be feeling well and enjoying good times, according to Luke 17:26-30, which gives us that kind of a picture:
“And as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man: They ate, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. Likewise as it was also in the days of Lot, they ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built, but on the day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed.”
How can it be that “good times are here” when society is crumbling before our very eyes—sexual immorality fully promoted, lawlessness upheld, and criminals allowed freedom? Police dishonored and denied authority, and many other contrasts to a peaceable culture? Yet, the economy is reported as doing well; the stock market is holding steady in a rising market. Perhaps those who ignore God have no hope and are like those Paul writes of in 1 Corinthians 15:32b, saying, “If there is no resurrection of the dead, ‘Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!'”
Perhaps the year 2022 will be the one in which God looks down and sees the world as He saw Sodom in Lot’s day, notes that He has obtained for His namesake the measure of Gentiles He wants, and moves with judgment in mind. It is by His great mercy that believers can be “Looking for that Blessed Hope and glorious appearance (then) of that great God and our Savior, Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13).
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