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THE HAND OF RESTRAINT

By Tim A. Blankenship

 

2 Thessalonians 2:1-17 

The Day of the LORD is coming. That is a promise and warning of Scripture. It is a day of darkness not of light. It is a time of judgment. For the Christian there is also promise of deliverance from it. Chapter two will give assurance of deliverance from this day of destruction; and tells us not to be troubled by the trials which will come our way, and that we will go through.

Just how are we to know when the “Great Tribulation” or “The time of Jacob’s trouble” begins? There are some distinguishing signs which show us. There are some who teach that the Church will go through the Tribulation. If so, why did Paul write verses one and two of this chapter? There were teachers [false teachers] teaching that the Church would go through this time of trouble, even then, and were even saying they were already in it. Not only was their teaching bad enough, but they were signing (forging) Paul’s name to the letters, and accusing Paul of writing them.

In this chapter Paul tells how we can know, and if the lost would pay attention, even how they can recognize the ‘Day of the LORD’. There must be something that sets the time of the beginning of the ‘time of sorrow’. Paul says there will first of all be a great apostasy [falling away or departure]. This will happen among many who profess Christ as Saviour, but have only joined a club ['church membership']. There has never been any relationship with Christ, no joy of salvation, no hope for life, and no exciting expectation of the return of Jesus Christ. Most who do not know Christ are not longing for His return, but rather fear it.

There is not much need for the Church to know; when the Day of the LORD comes; because the day Jesus calls out from the clouds, “Come up here” is the day the Church goes to be with the Lord, and the time of desolation begins. When you truly know the Lord Jesus you need not fear the ‘Day of the LORD’.

Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, 2 That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. 2 Thess 2:1-2 (KJV).
There will be a gathering of the Church. It is stated quite clearly in verse one, “…By our gathering together unto Him…”

The church was clearly troubled. They had been troubled by false teachers and false letters from those teachers, by forging Paul’s name. In doing so they were confusing the Thessalonican church and hoping to gain some thing for themselves. These teachers and letters were telling people that the ‘day of the LORD’ had already come, and they were living in it. As mentioned in the introduction that same teaching is going on today (2006), and leading many sincere Christians astray from the truth. Yes! You read me right, “Astray from the truth”. The day of the Lord has not come. The Revelation of Jesus Christ has not been fulfilled. There is much of the prophecies of the Old Testament and of the Revelation yet unfulfilled. The rapture has not occurred, Jesus has not returned as He promised, we are not living in the Millennial reign of Christ (Isn’t that a relief to know), nor has the wicked been judged; nor the righteous received their crowns.

The false message contradicted what Paul was teaching. Paul’s clear teaching, and the Bible’s teaching is that the ‘Day of the LORD’ is a time of great trouble, sorrow on earth. The day is marked by sudden disappearance of a certain group of people - namely the Church. those fundamental, Bible believing, Jesus worshipping, “Blessed Hope” watching, born again people will be taken out of the way in order for lawlessness to have its way.

The words, “…day of Christ is at hand…” in verse two is literally the “Day of the LORD”.

Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; 4 Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. 2 Thess 2:3-4 (KJV).
This letter was written in part to warn the church, that there are deceivers. Deceivers have a way of robbing people of their hope, joy and peace. Do not let anyone deceive you.

The ‘Day of the LORD’ is not the rapture of the Church. “The day of the LORD” will not begin until after the ‘rapture’, or ‘catching away of the Church’; the falling away [apostasy]; and the revealing of the ‘man of sin’ (though many will not recognize him as the man of sin because of his deceiving power).

The apostasy is a rebellion against all that is godly. It will even involve professing christians who do not know Jesus. They see Him as any other religious leader. This christianity to them is only a religion of choice just like the others. It is, in fact, a personal relationship which one is called into - chosen by God; the living God, and it is the only way to eternal life in heaven.

There are some prophecy teachers who see this word “apostasia” a little differently in this text. It can also mean - a departure - thus it could possibly mean the rapture of the Church where many depart from the earth. I have to admit it would fit in the text. And if this is true, then, it is definitely clear that there will come a rapture in the order that is listed here. I myself, do not need this verse to prove the point. I will stick with my afore mentioned assessment until I am shown to be wrong. It just seems that the word ‘apostasia’ would imply a departure from the good and holy, and righteous and just.

The apostasy is in effect a militant uprising against all that is pure and against God, Jesus and the Church. There is, even today, an attempt to silence the Church, and the Word of God.

There is also, ‘the man of sin’, also called the ’son of perdition’ who will be revealed, probably very near either side of the Rapture. Jesus mentions the ’son of perdition’ in John 17:12. He was in the person of Judas Iscariot the betrayer. This man who will come on the scene will exalt himself, call himself God, and will sit in the temple of God - this will be in Jerusalem. This man will be revealed just before ‘the day of the LORD’. His introduction will be as a man of peace and seeming ability to end world economic, religious, and environmental problems (See Revelation 6:1-2). he will be a world ruler.

Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? 2 Thess 2:5 (KJV).
These were things Paul had spoken to them about when he was with them. This is only a gentle nudge to call to remembrance what they had heard.

And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. 7 For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. 2 Thess 2:6-7 (KJV).
These two verses seem to be much clearer on ‘a taking away’ or ‘a departure’. It is not yet time for the ’son of perdition’ to be revealed. Really, only God knows when that time is. When God removes the restraints, then, and only then, can this deceiver who is also called ‘Antichrist’ have a free hand.

That raises a question. Who or what is the restraint? Whoever or whatever it is must be the greatest power of all the universe. He is like the wind - unseen, but you can hear Him at work; you can feel Him touch the cheeks of your soul; you hear His still, small, sweet voice; and you can see His effects upon the lives of people. It is a person who is restraining. Yes, it is the person of the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit. He lives, abides in the Church.

There is already, has been since the garden of Eden; the working of iniquity. When the presence and power of the Holy Spirit is gone iniquity will have a free hand for awhile. The Holy Spirit is present and powerful in the Church. If Jesus said, “I will not leave you Comfortless” (John 14:1 He will not leave the Church on earth. The restraining of the Holy Spirit will continue until the Church is stolen away, “as a thief in the night”.

And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: 2 Thess 2:8 (KJV).
After the removal of the Spirit the ’son of perdition’ the ‘antichrist’ who is the devil incarnate (counterfeiting what Jesus did) will be revealed.

Notice, though Paul’s encouraging words, “Whom the Lord will consume…” (See Revelation 1:16; 19:11-21). This, of course, will take place after he deceives the world.

Out of the Lord’s mouth comes a sharp two-edged sword. The two-edged sword is the Word of God (Ephesians 6:17; Hebrews 4:12). The “Breath of His mouth” referring to the work of the Spirit of the Word - which is the Holy Spirit. The glory of the lord is His brightness at His coming.

Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, 10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 2 Thess 2:9-10 (KJV).
The ’son of perdition’ will come in the power of satan. He will use signs, and miracles to deceive the nations (Revelation 13:13-14). These miracles will deceive only those who are perishing. These are people sho will have heard the gospel, but had/have no use for God. They are people who are independent of God and depend solely on self.

The time of deception seems ripe as fruit ready to pick. There are even professing christians who cry out for a sign, or may not be will not make a cognitive decision unless they have some “sign” or something happen to convince them it is right to do. We have the Scriptures. We who live by faith in Christ need nothing else. Jesus Himself said signs are the seeking of a wicked generation (Matthew 12:39; 16:4; Mark 8:12; Luke 11:29). Notice that Jesus mentions this twice in the gospel of Matthew. That is how the antichrist will deceive the world. If our heart/emotions, head, and feet are not established upon the truths of the Word of God, we too can be deceived.

And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: 12 That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness. 2 Thess 2:11-12 (KJV).
This seems - in its context - to apply to those who have rejected ‘the truth’ after receiving the required mark (See Revelation 13 and vv. 16-18 in particular). Only those receiving the mark, ie. rejecting Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour will receive the ’strong delusion’ sent by God; believing ‘the Lie’.

Because they refuse to love the truth; God will cause them to believe the Lie. When someone hears the message of the gospel, and rejects it one time his heart grows a little harder toward it. Each time he hears and rejects the chances of her/his being saved grows weaker.

God can, at any point in the Christ rejecter’s life, harden the heart. When God hardens the heart it is late, very late for saving grace, and very near to judgment. Do not harden your heart. Believe and receive Jesus before it is too late.

These are also those who, ‘had pleasure in unrighteousness’ (See Romans 1:18-32). They worshipped and served the creature [self], rather than the Creator.

But we are bound to give thanks always to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: 14 Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Thess 2:13-14 (KJV).

It is done by the gospel, and for the purpose of ascribing to the Lord the glory due unto Him.

These messages to the Thessalonicans are as much a part of the gospel, as the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. Receive, and believe the whole gospel or perish.

Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle.16 Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, 17 Comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work. 2 Thess 2:15-17 (KJV).
“Stand fast”, or do not be shaken from - do not be moved from your stand of faith.
“Hold the traditions” is not speaking of religious man made ideas, but the truths of God’s Word. Paul is here saying, pass on what I have written to you, as being from God - it is Scripture. Pass it on from your generation to the next.

Man made tradition, most often, goes against Scripture, and we are to shun those that do. Many times though, we want to hold to these and forsake the Scriptural tradition. God forbid.

There is comfort in heeding the word of God. We find comfort in His grace, knowing in Him we have everlasting life.

Our lives are to be established in good words and works; established in God and His grace.

Are your works done to glorify Jesus, and to reflect His image to a lost world? Does the lost world look at you and see comfort and peace, or fear and torment?

The ‘day of the Lord’ is not for the believer, but the unbelieving. In this is comfort.


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