MP3: The Tribulation Road Thru 2 Thessalonians 2
Hosts: Nathan Jones & Vic Batista
Welcome to The Truth Will Set You Free podcast teaching series titled “The Tribulation Road!” Nathan Jones and Vic Batista have been your guides since the very first installment, going verse by verse through the Bible’s prophetic book of 2 Thessalonians. We will continue to tackle chapter two and see if the Apostle Paul was teaching anything but a Pre-Tribulation Rapture.
Nathan Jones: Let’s now look at 2 Thessalonians 2:5-12 and see if the Apostle Paul was telling the Thessalonians that Christians will have to live through at least the first half of the Tribulation before the Rapture occurs.
“Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming. The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason, God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”
Vic Batista: This excellent passage leads us to three question regarding this Man of Sin’s prophesied coming:
- Who is he?
- When will he appear?
- Will the Church know who he is?
Nathan Jones: When this “man of sin,” this prophesied one-world leader known as the Antichrist, comes on the scene, the Apostle Paul revealed that proceeding his arrival will be a great falling away (2 Thes. 2:3). What does this great falling away entail? The answer depends on how one interprets “falling away.”
Dr. Tommy Ice has written a great article on his pretrib.org website where he explains that falling away might not mean apostasy, but rather it might indicate the Rapture. The falling away would then be a catching up to Jesus Christ. People can check that out for themselves and draw their own conclusions.
Who am I to argue with such an esteemed theologian? And yet, when you look at the context, though, it appears Paul here is actually talking about a great rejection of the Christian faith. And, many other Bible prophecy teachers believe it is pretty clear that this falling away is indeed referring to a massive falling away from the Christian faith.
We also learn from verse 4 that the Antichrist will exalt himself in the Temple as if he were God. He will do so, according to the Revelation timeline, at the mid-point of the 7-year Tribulation. But, then, Paul goes on in verses 6-7 and reminds the Thessalonians that during his visit he had taught them about a restraining influence on the world. Paul capitalizes the He as “He who now restrains.” What I believe Paul is referring to here is the Holy Spirit working through the Church. In other words, as long as God’s restrainer is working on the earth, the Antichrist cannot come, for the world cannot reach its full potential of evil as it will during the Tribulation as long as the Holy Spirit is holding back mankind’s full proclivity to do evil.
If the Restrainer is in truth the Holy Spirit’s work through the church, pushing back against evil and leading people to Jesus Christ, with the Church gone in the Rapture so too will be the Holy Spirit’s restraining influence. With the Church having been removed from this world by the Rapture, the full wrath of Satan will be let loose upon the earth. God would also no longer feel constrained to withhold unleashing His wrath and judgment upon the world, as He will most certainly do during the Tribulation, for His Bride will no longer be in harm’s way.With the #Church having been removed from this world by the #Rapture, the full wrath of #God and #Satan will be let loose upon the earth. #Tribulation Click To Tweet
Paul goes on to describe the Antichrist and his activities once the Restrainer has been removed. But, first, Paul starts by assuring the fearful Thessalonians in verse 8 that once “the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming.” He will be destroyed by God’s power in amazing ways. But, all this happens after the Church has been taken off this earth.
A Strong Delusion
Nathan Jones: Second Thessalonians 2:9 explains that “the coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders.” This Lawless One — the Antichrist — when he comes will be working for Satan.
Quite frankly, he will be seen as simply amazing. He will come to wield great political and military power. Great signs surround his arrival. He will appear as if a god, performing miracles and “lying wonders.” He will perform all of these amazing deeds, and those people left behind after the Rapture will be “oohed” and “aahed” as if he were the greatest of cult leaders. Everybody will think he is the best thing ever to visit humanity, maybe even like a Superman or Thor.
Because the Antichrist will arrive in rock star status, those confused and frightened people who had just witnessed the Rapture leave them behind will believe everything that the Antichrist has to says. He will teach, as stated in verse 10, “unrighteous deception among those who perish.” “Because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved,” they will reject the God of the Bible.
Because the post-Rapture world will choose to believe a liar and reject the Giver of All Truth, verses 11-12 reveal that “God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie,” in order “that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” The people will choose the lie, and so God will give these wicked and rebellious people who reject Him a “strong delusion.” This strong delusion cements the people’s wicked hearts into believing all of the lies. Everything Satan says through this Antichrist will be gospel to them. God does this so that they may be condemned. The people will harden their hearts against God, as Pharaoh did at the Exodus against God, and likewise, God will further harden the hearts of those people who were left behind so that they remain forever condemned.
Therefore, quite a number of events revolve around the arrival of the Antichrist.
Vic Batista: Second Thessalonians 2 is indeed a very difficult passage, and there are a lot of different views regarding its interpretation. But, I think you made a great point by pointing out how verse 7 in its teaching about the removal of the restraining influence of the Holy Spirit through the Church provides a clear indicator of a Pre-Tribulation Rapture. After all, Christians in this age are the salt of the earth. We are the city set on the hill. Matthew 5 explains that Christianity provides that restraining influence against the growth of evil in this world. Once the Church has been raptured to Heaven, that restraining influence will also be taken away.
Just imagine all the horrors that what will be inflicted across the world without the Church here to hold back the ever-growing tide of evil. Can you imagine just how terrible the world will be like when Christians are gone?
Nathan Jones: Well, I don’t have to imagine. I can read the books of Daniel and Revelation. There we learn just how terrible the world will become. Just imagine ripping off the veneer of civilized society. Society would become like those post-apocalyptic television shows, like The 100, or the Mad Max or Terminator movies. The people of the world will act on every evil impulse, that is until the Man of Lawlessness comes to power.
You’ve got to wonder why so many people are so obsessed with zombie apocalypses movies. Well, the Antichrist’s followers will rather act like zombies. They believe in this delusion and so they follow whatever the Antichrist says.
In the seventh part of our travels along the Tribulation Road and our verse-by-verse study of 2 Thessalonians, we’ll stay on chapter two a bit more because it’s so important to our understanding of the prophetic timeline.