Sermon – September 6, 2020
We live in the end of days. While there is much to be said for this, it is clear that we are not alone in thinking so. We often say this, in Scripture, about the fact that the last age is here, that Jesus has come, died, and been resurrected, and will one day come again for his bride. But, many use the term in another way, thinking not just that we are in the last epoch, but in the very last days, and based on what we see in the world that we should expect Jesus’ return any day now. This is true! We ought always be looking for our Savior’s appearance. But, today, let us look soberly at what Scripture says about that day, and the events that surround it.
1. Scriptural Authority
All three groups involved have problems here. The Thessalonians think that the day of the Lord has come, providing a great deal of anxiety and trouble to them. Paul’s problem stems from not understanding how such a thought arose among the Thessalonians. His instructions seemed clear, and he even notes that he had spoken to them about these things before. Our problem extends from the fact that Paul has spoken about these things before, and thus his words here are truncated and even somewhat hidden. Such passages call for our diligence and patience – we ought not fill in the gaps of our missing knowledge with mere speculation, but be content with what the Holy Spirit has kept for us.
2. Special Actions
There are four actions for us to note in this passage. First is the rebellion. The rebellion itself is primarily religious in nature, and seems to be of a kind that makes it excel over all other rebellions before. Likewise, pulling from Daniel, the description of the “Man of Lawlessness,” or Rebeller, stands in a long line of god-like pretenders, but appears to be the pinnacle and the most extreme example of these. Third, the restraint has kept these two forces at bay. Yet, there will be a day when the buffer is taken away, and the full brunt of the rebellion will be felt. But, finally, the result is the appearance of Jesus of Nazareth, who will destroy the grand pretensions of man with a simple word and make his glory worthless in light of his mere appearance.
3. Spiritual Actors
Behind the Rebeller stands our adversary, Satan. His power allows the wonders and false-signs of the Rebeller to have effect. Yet, as though Paul couldn’t let this power be mentioned without alleviating fears of people who doubt God’s sovereignty, he mentions that all of the deception comes from God. This deception is, in a sense, welcome by those who are perishing, for they have loved unrighteousness and rejected the truth (vv. 10 and 12). Thus, they have deceived themselves, and welcome any deception that pulls them away from the truth.
4. Specific Application
Let us pull, then, some specific applications from this text. First, let us be content with what the Scripture provides, and not seek to extricate from it answers it was not intended to give. Second, let us always be aware. The point of the text is to not be deceived. Know Scripture well, so that when the false power and signs of the Rebeller come, you will be able to tell the difference! Third, seek the truth, not experiences. Doubtless, many who are driven by desires for comfort, peace, exuberance, and ecstasy will be pulled away by the power of the Rebeller and the experience of the Rebellion. Strive for truth, which is what those who are pulled away lack, and all these things will be added unto you. Fourth, be comforted. Paul wants this passage to comfort the Thessalonians, and it should comfort us as well. God will hold his people fast; so stand faithful through the persecution, through the dissent, through the rejection and loss of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and know the perfection and glory of Jesus Christ and his Kingdom!