In our meditation yesterday, we looked at the first of three events that Paul wrote must happen before we can expect the catching away of the people of God (The Rapture). Paul called it the "rebellion," but it is also translated as apostasy or falling away in other English translations. Today, we want to think about the other two events. Here again, is the critical passage that Paul wrote:
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 that 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 to do with God, something that we already see in the world today. The prophet Daniel also wrote about this opposition to those who stand for God: “As I looked, this horn made war with the saints and prevailed over them” (Daniel 7:21). What will opposing everything to do with God (v. 4) look like in the days ahead? We can speculate that God’s enemies will try to stop all Christian worship, as in the recent outbreak of sickness. Expect it to get worse. Perhaps that's why he's called the Antichrist—he will be anti-everything to do with Christ, even to the point of exalting himself as God.
Daniel wrote that when this man, the Antichrist, comes to power, a peace treaty or covenant is confirmed or signed on the issue of Jerusalem (Daniel 9:27), the city claimed by the Jewish people and the Palestinians. His bargaining position may 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 Jewish people will accept this man, as they have longed for their temple to be rebuilt for many years. Of course, Satan’s plan is for the Antichrist to sit in the temple and proclaim himself as God, which is the third event (v. 4). Jesus said that this desecration or abomination would begin a time of persecution or tribulation for His people (Matthew 24:15-21). The signing or confirming of a peace covenant or treaty is a sign we can observe that starts the last seven years of Daniel's 70 weeks of years prophecy (Daniel 9:24). This prophecy speaks of a seven-year period, with a desecration by the Antichrist of the rebuilt temple at the mid-point (Daniel 9:27). Paul warned us to be aware of these events as signs of Christ’s coming and the rapture.
The Antichrist will set himself up in God's temple, proclaiming himself as God (v. 4). Currently (April 2022), there is no Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. Believers must prepare to endure persecution by getting close to Christ and meditating on His Word. 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 that He will deliver us from Satan's wrath (Revelation 12:12 and 17). Grace will be poured out on God's people and, I believe, a powerful revival as people awaken to what is going on in the world, that we have been living under great deception and bondage to dark evil spirits. The Lord will intervene in the deliverance of His people and pour out wrath on His enemies. Pray that we may endure and be found on the right side when Christ comes. Keith Thomas