Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 1 * PART 2 * BOOK 43
Paul’s Glimpse at Prophecy – Part 2
II Thessalonians 1:1-2:4
As most of you know, our whole purpose has just simply been over the years to teach the Word as the Holy Spirit leads, and let the chips fall where they may. I don’t mind you disagreeing with me, but if you do disagree you must do it Scripturally, and not just go by what some denomination may teach.
We have found that we must teach outside the Church environment because everybody has become so denominationally minded that if I were to have a class in a Baptist Church, then no one comes but Baptists. If I have it in a Methodist Church, no one comes but the Methodists so I’ve learned if you’re going to reach across all these various barriers, then you have to stay on neutral ground, and that’s the way I try to keep the program. I want to keep it totally neutral, and simply teach the Word as we feel the Holy Spirit has led us to teach it. We’re finding out from every denominational background imaginable that people know so little of the Scriptures. They are so inept at comparing Scripture with Scripture, and hopefully we’re making a little head way in that regard also.
Now back to II Thessalonians chapter 1, where we left off at verse 8. We discussed at the close of the last lesson how Paul comes the closest to bringing in a little bit of the Old Testament prophecy concerning the wrath and the vexation, or the Day of the Lord as we pointed out several programs back. Remember we went back all the way from Isaiah up through the Old Testament, and all those references using the “Day of the Lord.” And the Day of the Lord is awful, the Day of the Lord is the wrath, and the judgment of God upon Christ-rejecting mankind. Upon empires and governments and kings, and presidents and so forth, who have been flaunting the things of God. So here in verse 8 Paul is alluding to that Old Testament format of the Day of the Lord, when He will come and take vengeance on them that don’t know God.
II Thessalonians 1:8-9
“In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: 9. Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;”
That’s their eternal doom. Now someone just called early this morning before we left home, and their question on the phone was, “Does Paul ever teach Hell fire, or the lake of fire as we see it in Revelation?” No. Paul doesn’t use the term explicitly, but he certainly warns people over and over of their lost estate and the doom that’s awaiting them. Just because he doesn’t use the language, the lake of fire, doesn’t mean that he has now superceded it somehow or other, and here’s a good example of that.
II Thessalonians 1:9a
“Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord,…
Being separated from the Lord is what is going to make eternity for the lost so awful. It isn’t that they’re going to be singed with the fire, I don’t think that’s it at all, as the Hell fire is just simply the awfulness of totally being separated from God. Now of course don’t get me wrong, they’re going to be tormented. We know that the Scripture is explicit on that. You get just a little window of that back in Luke chapter 16 with the rich man when he was conversing with Abraham, who had Lazarus in his bosom, where the rich man says, “I am tormented in this flame.” So definitely there is that aspect that awaits all who go that way. But the greatest part of the torment of the lost that will go into eternity without Christ is that they are separated from the presence of the Lord without hope. Verse 10.
II Thessalonians 1:10
“When he shall come (the second coming now according with prophecy, as that’s what we’re dealing with first) to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe(do you see how simple Paul always keeps it. Salvation is to them that believe) (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.”
And after all when Paul came into these pagan cities, and approached these pagan Gentiles with the Gospel. He didn’t come in with a great Madison Avenue format. He didn’t make them jump through hoops, he didn’t put on a dog and pony show, as we like to say. He didn’t do all these things to draw the crowd, Wherever he met a group of people, he just simply presented Christ crucified, and risen from the dead as we find in I Corinthians 15:1-4. And from that simple approach these little cells of believers made up the Body of Christ at Thessalonica. Now I trust that you know that they weren’t by the thousands. None of Paul’s little congregations were thousands of people, they were relatively, small with most of them meeting in homes. But nevertheless the overall result was, as it says in the Book of Acts, “They turned the then-known world upside down.” He did that just by simply presenting the Gospel, and that’s all he asked his pagan people to do, “Just believe it, trust it, and when your faith is manifested then God does the work of redemption, a life changing, and so on and so forth.” Now then verse 11. I’m in a hurry because I want to get down into chapter 2.
II Thessalonians 1:11
“Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power:”
Now listen, when he speaks of power here, he’s not talking about tremendous supernatural miracles. The supernatural miracles were that these pagans could come out of their idolatry and their worship of the gods and goddesses and place their faith in Paul’s Gospel. Now that’s the power that was manifested here, and that wasn’t easy. They probably lost contact with a lot of their friends and relatives because of this new found faith. All of a sudden they had nothing more to do with pagan temple sacrifices, nothing more to do with the gross immorality of those pagan temples, and so it was the work of faith with power. Now here it is in verse 12.
II Thessalonians 1:12
“That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Now these people didn’t deserve God’s Grace any more than you or I do, but it was the Grace of God that was poured out on these pagan Thessalonians in that they became believers and were transformed and became then a tremendous witness and testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ. Now we’re going to go into chapter 2, and immediately the apostle brings in something that he’s been leading up to in these earlier verses.
II Thessalonians 2:1
“Now we beseech you, brethren by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, (now the next part of the verse is a direct departure of him alluding to the Second Coming as all of the Old Testament does. Now Christ is coming to something that is only a Pauline revelation and that is that Christ would only come to the air at the Rapture) and by our gathering together unto him,”
Now the other night I used the analogy again, one that I think I’ve used on the program, and I still think it’s a pretty good one, at least it’s enough to make you smile. “We’ve all seen in a movie or television program where one thing or another will lead you out to the old junk yard, or the old salvage yard where they have this huge electric magnet, where they can just swing it over the whole yard. In fact my daughter went to a salvage yard here a while back and the guy in that electric magnet just gave her an exhibition of what he could do. She said, “It was amazing. He could take that great big magnet swing it over on a little tiny piece of iron, pick it up and could sling it half way across the salvage yard.” Well she got a big kick out of what a man can do when he’s got that kind of expertise. But I think you get the picture. A person using that electric magnet can turn it on, and all that metal that is below it just slides up to that magnet. The force just pulls it up, and that’s the way I like to picture the Rapture. Christ is going to come to the air, and just like a great magnet, He’s going to pull us all up into His presence.
I think I shared on the program, and I did again the other night in one of our classes, and it was just for a smile, that we know the earth is round, and if the Lord comes from our perspective, the people on the other part of the globe are going to have to go a little further. They’re going to have come around the edges, but nevertheless we’re all going to meet the Lord in the air wherever it is, and this is what Paul is talking about. He’s not talking about when Christ comes to the Mount of Olives. See, that’s what you have to notice in Scripture, is the change in language. We’re also not talking about Christ coming in wrath and attending judgment, but instead for us. It’s just simply a gathering together to meet Him in the air as Paul tells us in I Thessalonians chapter 4 as we saw a few weeks back. Now reading verse 1 again.
II Thessalonians 2:1
“Now we beseech you, brethren by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him.” Now that’s the language I want you to keep in your computer.”…our gathering together unto him.” Now verse 2.
II Thessalonians 2:2
“That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, (small ‘s’ so by their own spirit or an outside spirit, it’s not the Holy Spirit) nor by word, nor by letter as from us, (now what does that indicate? Among all the other things that Paul had to constantly deal with, there were people forging his name, and sending these forged letters to his congregations to confuse the issue. So Paul had to put up with that, so he’s telling these Thessalonians, “Don’t pay any attention to a forged letter as from us) as that the day of (the Lord) Christ is at hand.”
Now you’re going to say, “Well my Bible says, “the day of Christ is at hand.” Well I’ll probably get some mail on this, but everybody that I’ve ever read has all agreed that this is one place where our King James has an error. But I always have to remind folks remember, the King James is not the original manuscript. The original manuscript had no errors in it, but the King James is still a translation, and there can be an error, and here is probably one of the most profound, because all are agreed that in light of all the language around it, this should be, “the Day of the Lord.” Remember we pointed them all out coming up through the Old Testament. The Day of the Lord is the day of wrath, and vexation and judgments and the horrors of the Tribulation, ending with Christ’s Second Coming to the Mount of Olives, Whereas the “Day of Christ” is what we call the Rapture, the resurrection day for the Church.
So regardless of how somebody may oppose that, I’m going to stick to my guns, that in light of all that surrounds this verse, this should have been the “Day of the Lord.” So Paul says,“be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled,” What is Paul implying here? Paul is implying that due to the tremendous amount of pressure and persecution that these new believers were coming under, and in light of his teaching, which we’ll see in a few minutes, he covered the whole nine years in those first 3 or 4 weeks that he was with them, and so they understood this coming day of wrath, they knew there was a Tribulation period of time coming, and what do you suppose they were beginning to think. That they were in it! And evidently some of these forged letters, and some of these false teachers were coming in and telling them that. “Well listen, the reason you’re suffering so much is we’re in the Tribulation.” And these forged letters would come in and tell them “Bear up because after all this is the wrath and vexation of the Day of the Lord.”
But Paul says, “Don’t you buy that, don’t you believe any of that stuff, because we’re not in the Day of the Lord. You haven’t missed the Rapture!” You know I think every believer at one time or other in his life, that understands the Rapture, and has probably happened to all of us, but you come home and expect the family to be there, but they’re all gone, nobody’s home. What’s the first thought that hits you? The Lord came. Well the Thessalonians were in this same situation, they thought the Lord had come, and they’d missed the Rapture. So Paul is writing now to comfort them, “That no, you haven’t missed it, this isn’t the Tribulation, this is not the Day of the Lord.” Now look at the next verse.
II Thessalonians 2:3a
“Let no man deceive you by any means:…”
Don’t let someone come along and tell you that the Day of Christ has already happened, and you’re in the Day of the Lord. Because Paul says, “The Day of the Lord cannot happen until:
II Thessalonians 2:3b
“…for that day (those 7 years of Tribulation) shall not come except (and what’s the except or until?) there come a falling away (or departure) first,…”
That day of judgment cannot come until the departure happens. Now the word ‘apostasy’ is the Greek word from which our King James, and other translations have gotten the term“the falling away” which of course is appropriate, but there’s another Greek word, and I’m not a Greek scholar, so I’m going to have to look as I have written it down, the cognate verb of the word apostasy is “aphistaymi” and that is translated in several other places in the New Testament as, “departing from one place to another.” I’ve mentioned it before on the program that the earlier translation before the 1611 King James, such as the Tyndale, and Geneva, and a couple of earlier translations did use the word departure instead of falling awayas plain as day.
“That this day of the Lord cannot come until there is the departure comes first.” Also the Greek word ‘aphistaymi’ has the little Greek letter ahead of it that indicates the article “the.” So the Greek implies “The Departure.” Now again I think it’s just like we can change some of our words by just adding an “ly.” In other words you can have the verb happy and it’s a verb, as someone is happy. Then you just simply add an ‘ly’ and you make it an adverb, and the word becomes ‘happily.’ Do you see that? Well it’s the same way with this Greek word, it’s so closely related, that you’re not doing any injustice to the Greek or anything else to use the translation, “The departure.”
II Thessalonians 2:3a
“Let no man deceive you by any means; for that day (of the Lord, the Day of Judgment the Day of Wrath. See that’s why the Day of Christ doesn’t fit up there in verse 2) shall not come, except (or until) there come the departure first,…”
Now this fits with everything else that Paul writes. Remember we saw last month in our four programs that back in I Thessalonians Paul told us we’re not appointed to wrath.
I Thessalonians 5:9
“For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,”
We’re not appointed to the judgments and vexation, we’ve been saved out of all that. So you have to keep everything in context, so Paul is absolutely right here saying that the Day of Judgment cannot begin until the departure first.” And then what happens?
II Thessalonians 2:3b
“and that man of sin be revealed,…”
Now let’s go over to I John chapter 2, one of the little epistles of John to the right in your Bible. Now I believe, as far as I can tell, this is the only place in Scripture where this man of sin is called, “the antichrist.” I always have to qualify the word ‘antichrist,’ it does not mean the man who is against Christ, as that is our normal interpretation. But the term antichrist means the “counterfeit Christ, and the world is going to buy that. The world and especially Israel is going to buy that, as immediately when they see what this man does, by bringing peace to the Middle East are going to acclaim him as the Christ. That’s why we’ll see in a little bit in Revelation 6:1, he appears riding on a white horse. Well according to symbolism, who is really going to come on the white horse? The True Christ! So this man of sin, the antichrist will not be an opposer per se, but rather a counterfeit.
I John 2:18
“Little children, (remember John like Peter writes primarily to Jews who will be in the Tribulation. So John is writing appropriately) it is the last time: (absolutely it is) and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.”
Now remember he’s writing to Jews specifically, I feel, who will be feasting on these little verses from I, II, and III John during the Tribulation in particular. Now flip over to chapter 4:3.
I John 4:3
“And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come, and even now already is it in the world.”
The spirit of antichrist has been here ever since the beginning of the Garden experience, because after all who is behind the antichrist? Well Satan is! It’s satanic power, and so the antichrist is consequently then called these other terms, and as we see in the last verse we studied in II Thessalonians chapter 2, he’s also called, “the son of perdition.”
II Thessalonians 2:3b
“and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition.”
Now there’s only one other person in all of human history that was called that, and who was it? Judas, one of the twelve was called, “the son of perdition, “ and you know what he was? He was indwelt by Satan, and so will this man be. Not the first 3 1/2 years, but the second 3 1/2 he will be indwelt by Satan the same as Judas was. Now in order to establish our foundation for teaching these things, come back to the Book of Daniel with me in the two minutes we have left. We can’t just pull these things out of the woodwork, and you just can’t hopscotch through Scripture, but if you’ll come back to Daniel, who the Lord Jesus Himself, called a prophet.
Now why would I make a point of that? Because there are so many, especially of higher criticism, who maintain that Daniel is a forgery. Due to the explicit accuracy of Daniel’s prophet utterances, it must have been written after the fact, and then forged. Now that’s what the higher critics like to do. They like to take away all the inspiration, and they like to take away the supernatural idea of our Scriptures and that’s one way they can do it. But the Lord Jesus Himself said in Matthew 24:15 –
“When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth let him understand:)”
And if you can’t believe the words of the Lord Jesus, then we might as well take this Book, throw it away and go home, because after all He’s the author of the whole thing, and He called Daniel a prophet. So in our next program we will go back and see from the prophet Daniel the very first portion of Scripture that delineates one man as becoming the great world ruler, the man of sin.