Friday, May 9, 2014

2 Thessalonians 2:1-4

Have you ever heard anyone claim that some political figure was the Antichrist? It seems that every couple of years, overly zealous prophecy groups formulate new ideas as to the end of the world, and typically end up pointing a finger at one person or another as the “Antichrist.” I really feel that many “predictions” are actually based on a dislike for the specific person, and the desire to label them as the “Antichrist.” Perhaps you have heard other’s predictions, and I am certain that as we get new popes, and presidents, and Russia gets new presidents, and we continue to have enemies in the Middle East, at some point or another the list will grow with the predictions of who the Antichrist will be.
So, when will the Antichrist come? Before we answer that, we need to know why people are trying to predict his coming. In the timeline of the end time events, the Antichrist will come on the scene to act like Christ before Christ actually returns to the earth. The Antichrist will offer unity and peace and will attempt to be the substitute of Christ. If people were to accurately predict when the Antichrist was coming, they would by proxy be able to know when Jesus was returning. This would seem like a fool-proof plan except that Jesus already explained in Mark 13:32 that no one knows that timeline except for God. Any attempts to solve it, or calculate it, seem to me to be exercises in futility.
The timeline nevertheless will unfold in that order though, coming of Antichrist then return of Christ. This was important as Paul wrote to the church at Thessalonica. It seems that someone had written a letter posing as Paul and had told them that Christ had already returned and they had missed it. This was really confusing these new believers, and they didn’t know why Christ would abandon them like that. When Paul heard of this deception, he wrote this letter to let them know the truth.
In verses 1-4, he teaches them this chronology of events that will unfold with the Antichrist coming first. He explained that if the Antichrist had come, they would certainly have known it. In describing the Antichrist, Paul says that he is full of sin and deception, he opposed God and will exalt himself above God, and that he will even establish a throne so that he can show the world that he is like God. Paul’s point was that these things had not yet happened. The Antichrist had not come.
I can only assume that the same type of distracters as Paul endured and as I have seen over the years will continue to come. They will proclaim that the next major world leader is the new Antichrist, and will exhaust themselves in trying to prove it to you. But do not be distracted from the truth. The return of Christ will be preceded by the revelation of the Antichrist, but the revelation of the Antichrist will be preceded by the rapture of the saints. (1 Thess. 4:13-14) We as believers will not even endure the deception and wickedness of the Antichrist. Therefore, it has never been our job to predict who the Antichrist is. Rather, it is our job to engage the world with the truth that Christ already came to accomplish forgiveness for their sins and that they must place their faith in Him before he returns again in judgment of those who do not believe.

Food For Thought: According to Paul in verse 2, why did he write about these details to the believers in Thessalonica?