by Mike Ratliff
1 Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, 2 that you not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. 3 Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, 4 who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God. 2 Thessalonians 2:1-4 (NASB)
1 Ἐρωτῶμεν δὲ ὑμᾶς, ἀδελφοί, ὑπὲρ τῆς παρουσίας τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ καὶ ἡμῶν ἐπισυναγωγῆς ἐπʼ αὐτὸν 2 εἰς τὸ μὴ ταχέως σαλευθῆναι ὑμᾶς ἀπὸ τοῦ νοὸς μηδὲ θροεῖσθαι, μήτε διὰ πνεύματος μήτε διὰ λόγου μήτε διʼ ἐπιστολῆς ὡς διʼ ἡμῶν, ὡς ὅτι ἐνέστηκεν ἡ ἡμέρα τοῦ κυρίου·
3 Μή τις ὑμᾶς ἐξαπατήσῃ κατὰ μηδένα τρόπον. ὅτι ἐὰν μὴ ἔλθῃ ἡ ἀποστασία πρῶτον καὶ ἀποκαλυφθῇ ὁ ἄνθρωπος τῆς ἀνομίας, ὁ υἱὸς τῆς ἀπωλείας, 4 ὁ ἀντικείμενος καὶ ὑπεραιρόμενος ἐπὶ πάντα λεγόμενον θεὸν ἢ σέβασμα, ὥστε αὐτὸν εἰς τὸν ναὸν τοῦ θεοῦ καθίσαι ἀποδεικνύντα ἑαυτὸν ὅτι ἐστὶν θεός. 2 Thessalonians 2:1-4 (NA28)
1 Now we ask you, brothers, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, 2 for you to not be quickly shaken from your mind nor to be alarmed, neither by a spirit, nor by a word nor by a letter as if it has come by us that the Day of the Lord has come.
3 Let not anyone deceive you any way because it will not come unless the rebellion comes first and the Man of Lawlessness be revealed, the son of destruction, 4 who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or an object of veneration so that he takes his seat in the Temple of God presenting himself that he is God. 2 Thessalonians 2:1-4 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)
As you can probably tell, I have been doing a great deal of research into these very important eschatological elements. It is as if I cannot get past this study. When that happens I pay attention. God is working. What is Paul talking about in these verses? The Thessalonians had contacted him and were very upset because someone had told them, pretending to be him in some way, that the persecution they were experiencing was part of the Day of the Lord. That meant they had missed being gathered together with the rest of the saints. That meant they were experiencing the Wrath of God and that is something all believers should know that we will never experience. Yes, we will experience tribulation θλίψις (thlipsis) because the world hates the truth and if we are walking in the truth and are obedient to the Word of God then the world will hate us as well. So, Paul was telling the Thessalonians that they were experiencing thlipsis, but the events that must happen that precedes the coming of our Lord to gather the saints have not happened yet. Let’s look at those events.
In Paul’s statement in 2 Thessalonians 2:2 the key for us to understand the element of the timing as he understood it is how the Gathering of the Saints as our Lord’s return preceded the Day of Lord as if they were either a day apart or even on the same day. So what is the Day of the Lord? That is when the Trumpet and Bowl Judgments in Revelation are poured out on the unbelieving people on Earth. That is not for the Elect of God. The Day of the Lord is God pouring out His Wrath Judgment. So, going backward in time what is just before the Day of the Lord? It is the Return of Christ to gather His saints, however, the time preceding His return will be very rough.
9 “Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name. 10 At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. 11 Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. 12 Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved. 14 This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.
15 “Therefore when you see the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), 16 then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains. 17 Whoever is on the housetop must not go down to get the things out that are in his house. 18 Whoever is in the field must not turn back to get his cloak. 19 But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! 20 But pray that your flight will not be in the winter, or on a Sabbath. 21 For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will. 22 Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. 23 Then if anyone says to you, ‘Behold, here is the Christ,’ or ‘There He is,’ do not believe him. 24 For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect. 25 Behold, I have told you in advance. 26 So if they say to you, ‘Behold, He is in the wilderness,’ do not go out, or, ‘Behold, He is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe them. 27 For just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes even to the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be. 28 Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.
Here we have that rebellion or apostasy that Paul was talking about as persecution or thlipsis is poured out on all who won’t go along and worship the Man of Lawlessness. After this person commits the Abomination of Desolation he starts what is called the Great Tribulation and that means he attempts to wipe out all of God’s people. Have you ever wondered why so many so-called believers rebel and apostatize? I believe they are being setup for failure. They believe an easy-believism fake gospel that promises them an easy-out so they will miss the “Tribulation” through the Pre-Trib Rapture and when our Lord starts opening those Seals on that Scroll and things get tough only those whose faith is real will be able to stand firm because God will uphold them regardless of what thlipsis they are going through. However, we have a new precursor to the coming the Lord in Matthew 24:29. The Sun will be darkened and the Moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall, etc. So these signs will follow the apostasy, the Abomination of Desolation and the very next thing following these heavenly signs is the sign of the Son of man coming in the sky to get His elect from all parts of the Earth.
29 “But immediately after the tribulation of those days THE SUN WILL BE DARKENED, AND THE MOON WILL NOT GIVE ITS LIGHT, AND THE STARS WILL FALL from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30 And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the SON OF MAN COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF THE SKY with power and great glory. 31 And He will send forth His angels with A GREAT TRUMPET and THEY WILL GATHER TOGETHER His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other. Matthew 24:9-31 (NASB)
Here is the order of things as I understand it. The 70th Week of Daniel is 7 years long. The first seal that our Lord opens is the man on the white horse. I believe this is the Man of Lawlessness, but he has not committed that Abomination of Desolation yet. Instead he is a person who attempts to solve everyone’s problems though covenants, etc. During the first half of this 7 year period is when the Rebellion starts. We see a lot of apostasy going on right now, but when the Antichrist gets going he will start persecuting believers and that will probably trigger the great apostasy. At the Mid-point of the 7 Years the Man of Lawlessness commits the Abomination of Desolation and begins to try to kill all Christians. This is the Great Tribulation. We do not know how long this is, but Jesus says that unless these days are cut short no-one would survive. The next precursor to our Lord’s Return is the Heavenly signs. Then our Lord will return to gather His saints (us) from all over the Earth. Once we are out of the way then The Day of Lord will begin and it will be awful.
My brethren, I have put a lot of study into this. It is utterly amazing how Jesus’ Olivet Discourse lines up with Paul’s teaching in 2 Thessalonians and the order of things in Revelation. Why should we be surprised? Our God is Omniscient, Omnipotent, Omnipresent, and Immutable. He is Holy, Righteous, and Just. I love Him and I love my Lord Jesus Christ who died in my place to atone for my sins even though am nothing but an unworthy wretched sinner. I am unworthy, He is Worthy. I want so much to serve Him as He wills all for His glory!
Soli Deo Gloria!