Now that we have completed 2Thessalonians 2, I thought it might be a good idea for us to sit back, relax and consider what we have discovered there. Oh yes, dear reader, we have made a major discovery in this chapter, and if you haven’t seen it before, I would recommend that you pause and let it sink in, for we have discovered a portal through which we can get a rare glimpse of what is really going on all around us, every hour of every day. We can see that there is much more to this life than the things that we can see, touch, feel, taste and smell. We can also begin to understand the very forces behind human history in this rare glimpse into eternity.
Am I overstating my case here? No, not a chance!
Most of the time, readers of this chapter miss this opportunity, for most teachers these days pull the text out of its actual context to use it as supporting material for one or another eschatological doctrine. Now this may seem natural enough to many, but Paul wasn’t writing about the end of time here, he was writing about all time, and when we come to that realization, so many things become clear. It is almost as if a veil has been removed so that we can see clearly. That is why I was so painstaking in the way I covered these 12 verses.
We began with a little theory:
Jesus Messiah came, and Satan opposed Him with everything at his disposal, and finally was able to have Him killed, and in so doing, Old Satan stepped right into a trap. I would imagine that round about the time of the resurrection, or at the latest at Pentecost, he recognized that Christ’s Kingdom, indwelt by the Holy Spirit spreading across the planet was his worst nightmare, and thus almost immediately, he launched an all out frontal attack against it. He used everything he could muster to try and destroy the fledgling Kingdom, concentrating his strength in the power and might of the Romans. Those good brothers and sisters of ours in Thessalonica found themselves under attack on the front lines of this assault, as did others in various places over the next one or two hundred years.
God, thinking for the long term, did not directly intervene to take away the attack, remember that His most notable attribute is restraint, not the unlimited exercise of His awesome power. Instead, God provided those people the spiritual resources that would be necessary for them to not only survive this attack, but to actually grow and prosper spiritually while it continued, for the time had not yet come for Jesus to return. The more Satan tried to destroy the church, the more it grew, and eventually, Satan was forced to change his tactics. Even though the battle rages on, the result of God’s strategy is that literally billions more people became part of God’s Kingdom, including you and me.
If you read through the posts on this section, you saw that this working theory was borne out. Now that we have finished the section, we can add a few details.
The “man of lawlessness” is not someone who will come to the scene one day, for he is Satan, who has been working in opposition to God and His purposes since the very beginning, was doing so when Paul wrote the letters to the Thessalonians, and is still hard at work today. As he does so, God restrains him, and he can only go so far. God’s purpose will be done in full when God sees fit to complete it and Jesus returns, and Satan will not be allowed to keep God from accomplishing this. We do not know when that will be, but based upon what Paul has told us in 2Thessalonians 2:1-12, it could be at any time.
Satan uses multiple tactics in his fight against God. In the time of the Thessalonians, he was using a direct tactic, persecution. If you were paying close attention, you will have also noticed that Satan used an indirect method as well, when person or persons unknown attempted to deceive the Thessalonica Christians into thinking that Jesus had already returned. If the Thessalonica believers had allowed themselves to believe this, there would have been little point in their remaining faithful to the Lord, but to God’s glory, they did not falter.
Does Satan engage in other deceptions? Well, you know the answer to that; he was a liar from the beginning and the father of lies. We see them everywhere around us in every area of life, and each has as its object the frustration of God’s purpose of redemption and the ruin of those who accept the lie. Joseph Goebbels reportedly said that people will always believe the lie and the bigger the lie, the more readily it is believed. Since he was Hitler’s propaganda minister, I guess he must have known what he was talking about.
The Thessalonians must have wondered why God didn’t just put an end to their persecution; why Jesus didn’t just come back. We today might wonder the same thing: “Why doesn’t Jesus just return today?”
I can’t answer that question, for I don’t know. I do know this however: If Jesus had come back in the days of Paul and the Thessalonians, you and I would never have had the opportunity to share in the inheritance of our Lord.
Well dear reader, that’s probably enough for this Saturday; suffice it say that I could go on and on with this subject. Perhaps I’ll add more sometime, or maybe I’ll write a book about one day. Think on these things, then have a look around you, and think some more. You might be surprised how much you see.