In our meditation yesterday, we looked at the first thing that Paul stated must happen before we can expect the catching away of the people of God (The Rapture). Paul wrote about the "rebellion" (v. 3). In other English translations, it is called the apostasy or falling away. Today, we want to think about the other two events. Here again, is the important passage of Paul's writing:
1Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers and sisters, 2not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by the teaching allegedly from us—whether by a prophecy or by word of mouth or by letter—asserting that the day of the Lord has already come. 3Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. 4He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God (2 Thessalonians 2:1-4 Emphasis mine).
The second event Paul says must happen before the catching away of God’s people and the Day of the Lord is for the man of lawlessness (another name for the Antichrist) to be revealed (v. 3). He writes of the man of lawlessness opposing everything that is called God. You don’t have to look far to see this kind of spirit already at work in the world today. The prophet Daniel wrote on this topic too. Here’s what Daniel wrote: “ As I looked, this horn made war with the saints and prevailed over them” (Daniel 7:21). What will opposing everything (v. 4) to do with God look like on the earth today? We can conjecture that he will try to stop all Christian worship—and perhaps try to delete all copies of the Scriptures from the Internet (it's a good time to buy a paper Bible if you don't have one). You might need the Mark to access the Internet. Perhaps that's why he's called the Antichrist—he will be anti-everything to do with God and His Messiah, even to the point of exalting himself as God.
Daniel writes that when this man comes to power, a peace treaty or covenant is signed on the issue of Jerusalem (Daniel 9:27), the city claimed by the Jewish people as well as the Palestinians. His bargaining position will be to allow the Jewish people to rebuild their Temple in Jerusalem, possibly in exchange for the Palestinians to have their capital city in East Jerusalem. For this reason, the Jews will accept this man, as they have longed for their temple to be rebuilt for many years. Of course, the Antichrist's agenda is that he wants to sit in the temple and proclaim himself as God. This peace covenant or treaty is a sign that we can look for as it will start the last week of Daniel's 70 weeks of years (Daniel 9:24), a period of seven years, with desecration of the rebuilt temple at the mid-point (Daniel 9:27). Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Paul warned the Thessalonian church, and us, to be aware of these events as signs of His coming and the rapture.
Paul carries on the writing of a third event that will be a precursor of the coming of Christ for His people. Paul writes that this man will set himself up in God’s temple proclaiming himself as God (v. 4). At this present time (April 2020), there is no Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. Believers must prepare to endure persecution by getting close to Christ and meditating on His Word and Spirit. When the temptation comes to take the Mark of the Beast and worship Antichrist—we are to refuse and cling to the Lord Jesus—trusting He will deliver us from Satan's wrath (Revelation 12:12, and 17). Grace will be poured out on God's people, and with such grace will come, I believe, a powerful revival as people wake up to what is really going on in the world and we have been living under great deception and bondage to dark evil spirits. The Lord will intervene in their deliverance and pour out wrath on His enemies. Pray that each of us may endure and found on the right side. Keith Thomas