Monday, August 22, 2016

Decisions, Decisions...2 Thessalonians 2:1-12

"Now, dear brothers and sisters, let us clarify some things about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and how we will be gathered to meet him. Don’t be so easily shaken or alarmed by those who say that the day of the Lord has already begun. Don’t believe them, even if they claim to have had a spiritual vision, a revelation, or a letter supposedly from us." (2 Thessalonians 2:1-2)

It seems like every year lately, someone comes along claiming that they know the end of the world is near. They claim to have heard from God himself that Jesus is coming back on a certain day and we should all make sure we are ready. I'm telling you now, it's a lie. God isn't going to give us some strange sign or forewarning beyond what he has already promised in the Bible. And the Bible tells us- through Jesus' own lips in the gospels- that NO ONE knows the day, the time, the hour that He will return.

Apparently, this same issue has been going on for centuries because here's Paul addressing it halfway through his second letter to the Thessalonians. Honestly, people are obsessed with what we don't know. Let's see what Paul can tell us about what will happen leading up to Jesus' return:

"Don’t be fooled by what they say. For that day will not come until there is a great rebellion against God and the man of lawlessness is revealed—the one who brings destruction. He will exalt himself and defy everything that people call god and every object of worship. He will even sit in the temple of God, claiming that he himself is God." (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4)

Paul urges us not to be fooled and then says that there will be many people rebelling against God before God returns. There will be people leaving the church and falling away. He goes on to describe the one who will come before God as well. Paul calls him the "man of lawlessness" here and the NASB adds that he is the "son of destruction." I believe that this is what we often refer to as the "antichrist." Whatever you call him, he will do something that is unforgivable. He will claim to be God.

Paul goes on:

"Don’t you remember that I told you about all this when I was with you? And you know what is holding him back, for he can be revealed only when his time comes. For this lawlessness is already at work secretly, and it will remain secret until the one who is holding it back steps out of the way. Then the man of lawlessness will be revealed, but the Lord Jesus will slay him with the breath of his mouth and destroy him by the splendor of his coming." (2 Thessalonians 2:5-8)

There is no way for us to know exactly what Paul said when he was with the Thessalonians. It isn't recorded anywhere that I know of. But that doesn't matter so much. He goes on to further explain his opinion of things. He says here that God is holding this man of lawlessness back until the time is right. And when he finally is released, he won't have much time to get anything done before Jesus is here obliterating him. Paul says that "the Lord Jesus will slay him with the breath of his mouth and destroy him by the splendor of his coming." Isn't it amazing that our Jesus is that powerful?

It reminds me of this sign we have here in our house. It says, "Don't tell God that you have a big problem, tell your problem that you have a big God." And isn't that so true? Our big God is way bigger than any problem we can face including all that Satan is trying to do to destroy our lives. God can handle it. We can trust him with it.

It's tempting to assume here that the man of lawlessness that Paul is talking about is actually Satan, but it's not. Paul goes on from these verses to say this, which shows us that Satan is indeed not the man to which he is referring:

"This man will come to do the work of Satan with counterfeit power and signs and miracles. He will use every kind of evil deception to fool those on their way to destruction, because they refuse to love and accept the truth that would save them. So God will cause them to be greatly deceived, and they will believe these lies. Then they will be condemned for enjoying evil rather than believing the truth." (2 Thessalonians 2:9-12)

I'm not going to pretend to understand all that these verses mean. "God will cause them to be greatly deceived?" The only way that I can make that statement right in my mind is by realizing that we follow and love an amazingly patient and loving God. He has given us SO. MUCH. TIME. to figure out where we stand with Him. He has waited centuries- and is still waiting- for us to come around. If it gets to be end times and you still haven't come around, at that point, God is saying it'll be too late. There is such a thing as waiting too long to come to God's side.

And making no decision, I have to warn you, is a decision all by itself. To be on God's side, you must choose it. He will not force you onto his side. He loves you too much for that. He isn't going to force the issue. He is persuing with you unending, relentless love, but he will never force himself on you. Choose him. Choose him before it truly is too late.

I pray now that if you are on the fence about this and still reading, that your heart would be softened and you would be given eyes to see Jesus for who he truly is. I pray that you will take the time to really look at the Bible, really read it and see what you think. Check out John for a great starting place to read about Jesus, the one who loves you.

Be blessed today and remember to be a blessing to someone else!

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