The Presence of the Day of the Lord: How to know when the end is here – Part 3
19th July 2020

The Presence of the Day of the Lord: How to know when the end is here – Part 3

Preacher:
Series:
Passage: 2 Thessalonians 2:1-5

My aim last week was to show you what the Day of the Lord is all about.

  • We saw from the sample of Old Testament passages that the Day of the Lord is a time of
    seven years that has been set apart by God for judgment.
  • And then we asked the question, what does it look like when the Lord judges people?
    • My argument from Israel’s history was that God’s judgments include but are not
      limited to things like famine, drought, plagues, war, natural disasters, and
      genocide.

      • I tried to show you what these events look like by drawing on recent
        historical accounts.

Now the conclusion is that the Day of the Lord will be a time when these and similar devastating
events will sweep over the globe in catastrophic proportions.

Knowing what the Day of the Lord entails, the Thessalonian church was understandably
unsettled by the news that they were already in that time.
I remember listening to a radio ministry called Family Radio in my early Christian years.

  • The main speaker was a guy called Harold Camping.
    • For all the good I learned from him, he also had the habit of making predictions for
      the end of the world.

      • With every one of these predictions, he would cause tremendous excitement
        and agitation.

        • He used to tell Christians to come out of their churches and start
          home churches so that they will not be judged with the false
          believers.
      • Needless to say, none of his predictions ever came true, but the effect of his
        prophecies was disruptive.

Those who listened to him and allowed themselves to be swept up in his mania became unstable
in their faith and disorderly in their Christian witness.

Now we will have scaremongers and false prophets with us till the end actually comes.

  • They will keep disrupting the faith of unstable believers, and they will keep trying to sweep
    the church into a frenzy about the end times.

I recently read that people say receiving the vaccine being created for the coronavirus will be
receiving the mark of the beast.
To prove it, these fraudsters use numerology.
Corona = 6 letter word, C = 3 + 0 = 15 + R = 18 + O = 15 + N = 14 + A = 1 = 66.
If you put that together, you get the number 666.


With so many scaremongers and false prophets, we need clarity on how to know when the end is
actually here.

That’s precisely what Paul does for the believers in the next two verses.

  • He answers the question, how do we know when the end is here?

His answer is that the end is signaled by two events, the great apostasy and the revelation of the
man of lawlessness.


We’re going to look at these two respectively so that we’ll know exactly how to identify the Day of
the Lord.
But first, I want to deal with an interpretive issue in the text.


Exegetical issue:
Note with me verse 3 – It sounds like there are things that must take place before the Day of the
Lord can come.

  • BUT 1 Thess. 5:1-3 says that the Day of the Lord will come suddenly (without warning).

There seems to be a problem here.
If the Day of the Lord is preceded by two events, then how can it come as a thief in the night?

The answer is that the Day of the Lord and these two events are organically connected.

  • How do you know that a rugby match has started?
    • The whistle is blown first, and the ball is kicked to the opposing team.
      • Unless those two things happen first, the game hasn’t started

You see, what Paul is saying here is that these two events are the first things that happen on the
Day of the Lord.
When you see them happening, you know the Day has started.

These two events have the same characteristic as the Day of the Lord:

  • They will happen suddenly, without any warning.
    • This is consistent with Biblical teaching about this day everywhere.
      • 1 Thess. 5:1-3 (The Day will come as a thief in the night)
      • 2 Peter 3:10 (The Day will come like a thief)
      • James 5:8-9 (The coming of Christ is near, He is standing right at the door)
      • Luke 12:35-40 (The master’s return will be unexpected)

So, the apostasy and the revelation of the man of lawlessness signal the beginning of the Day of
the Lord.
They will happen suddenly, like a thief in the night.
The moment they occur there will be no turning back
The great and terrible Judgments of God will begin to consume the earth.


Now, let’s look at them individually, so we know what to expect.
I also want to show you how these two things are related.


Two signal markers of the presence of the Day of the Lord: Apostasy & Revelation of the
man of lawlessness.

The great apostasy: V3
ἀποστασία = to rise up in open defiance of authority, with the presumed intention to overthrow it
or to act in complete opposition to its demands—‘to rebel against, to revolt, to engage in
insurrection, rebellion. (Louw – Nida Greek English Lexicon)

  • Jer. 2:19
  • Josh. 22:22
  • Acts 21:21
  • 1 Kings 12:25-33

People will turn away from and rebel at a scale we have never seen before.
Paul uses an article to separate this occurrence from all the other – THE apostasy
He does this because people have been committing apostasy all through the ages.

  • 1 Tim. 4:1-2
  • 1 John 2:18-19

So, what is unique about this event is its scale
But who are these people who will commit this apostasy?

Those who commit this apostasy are the people from vv10-12

  • They are those who perish because they did not receive the love of the truth to be saved
  • They are all who will be judged because they did not believe the truth but took pleasure in
    wickedness

I do not think that this apostasy is limited to the church.

  • I believe this group consists of all religions – Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Atheism, and
    every other religious or philosophical creed: V4

There is going to be a mass defection – People will turn away from their religions to worship and
obey the man of lawlessness.

The revelation of the man of lawlessness: V4
First of all, we don’t know who this is.

  • He’s been identified with different people and institutions in the past
    • For example, the early church identified the emperors Nero and Caligula as the
      man of lawlessness.
    • In the middle ages, Martin Luther popularized the notion that this entity is not a
      person but a system, specifically the institution of the papacy
    • In more recent history, he was identified with Stalin and Mussolini.
    • Akin to Luther’s interpretation, the man of lawlessness has also been identified with
      some modern political system.

But, as you can obviously make out for yourself, none of these were the man of lawlessness.
The fact is that we don’t know who he is, hence the reason for his revelation.

But we are not left in total darkness about him:

  • First of all, we know that he is a person and not a system.
    • We know this because he is called the man of lawlessness, the son of destruction.
      • Whenever Paul speaks about this person, he uses the masculine singular
        pronoun – He, Him, His, and Himself.
  • Second, we know that he will be the incarnation of rebellion and he will be destined for hell
    • “Man of lawlessness” and “Son of destruction” are Semitic ways of describing his
      nature and destiny.

      • “Man of lawlessness” describes his nature – it means he will have no regard
        for the Laws of God. In fact, it seems that he will be a law unto himself: V4
      • “Son of destruction” is used one other time in the Bible – Judas: John 17:12
        • It is pretty clear that, like Judas, his destiny is eternal destruction.
  • Thirdly, we know what he will do: V4, 9-10
    • He will appose all religions and objects of worship: V4
      • ἀντικείμενος = To oppose or confront
        • A word study shows that it usually though not exclusively means a
          verbal opposition – To speak against
    • He will exalt himself above all religions and objects of worship: V4
      • ὑπεραιρόμενος = To exalt oneself in pride against someone or
        something

Picture of this kind of pride and opposition: See 1 Macc. 1:16-64

    • He will be worshipped by all people, including the Jews: V4
      • “Temple of God” ναὸν = Variously interpreted
        • Literal – Temple in Jerusalem, specifically the Holy of holies
        • Ecclesiastical – The Church
        • Metaphorical – To depict the usurpation of God and His authority
    • Animated by Satan, he will be the greatest deceiver the world has ever seen: V9-10
      • He will possess (or be possessed by) demonic power and he will be able to
        do miraculous works
      • He will most assuredly possess great rhetorical power to convince the world
        to follow him in his madness

So, this man of lawlessness will suddenly be revealed, and by intrigue and deception, he will
deceive the world into worshiping him.

Did you know that all the major religions of the world have an eschatological figure they are
waiting for:

  • Christianity is waiting for the return of Jesus
  • Islam is waiting for a messianic figure called the Mahdi who will usher in a time of peace,
    fight against divisions of Islam and unite all sects before the return of Jesus
  • Judaism is waiting for the return of a messianic figure who will establish Israel as the new
    world superpower
  • Hinduism is waiting for a figure called Kalki who will come to end this present age of
    darkness we are living in:

Whenever there is decay of righteousness O! Bharata
And a rise of unrighteousness, then I manifest Myself!
"The Mahabharata, Book 6, Bhagavad Gita Chapter IV, Section 7"


 

  • Buddhism is also waiting for the final incarnation of the buddha. In their own writings it is
    prophesied:

 


“At that period, brethren, there will arise in the world an Exalted One named Maitreya, Fully
Awakened, abounding in wisdom and goodness, happy, with knowledge of the worlds,
unsurpassed as a guide to mortals willing to be led, a teacher for gods and men, an Exalted One,
a Buddha, even as I am now. He, by himself, will thoroughly know and see, as it were face to
face, this universe, with Its worlds of the spirits, Its Brahmas and Its Maras, and Its world of
recluses and Brahmins, of princes and peoples, even as I now, by myself, thoroughly know and
see them.”
— Digha Nikaya, 26.


I believe this man of lawlessness will take his seat as the fulfillment of every one of these
prophecies. His final act of deviance will be to take his seat in the Temple in Jerusalem and
proclaim himself to be God.
He will be hailed as the saviour of the world, and for a time, he will succeed in his deception!
As a result, there will be a mass falling away to worship him.
This is the sign that the Day of the Lord has begun.

Now I want to repeat what I said last week. There’s a lot of people who have made it their primary
business to identify the signs of the times. They say that the number of the beast is this or that
thing. They predict years and months and days. They identify heavenly signs like eclipses and
earthly signs like natural disasters and political signs like the rise of China and Russia and the
existence of Israel. They point to all of these things to say that the time is near. Now, these things
may be true, the problem is they are not what the church is taught to wait for. We are not told to
look for signs. Doing that weakens our hope and makes us unstable like the rest of the world.
Yes, the Day of the Lord is coming. Yes, the events of the Day of the Lord presuppose certain
signs. But we do not look for signs of its coming!! We are taught to expect the Lord Jesus
Himself!!

  • 1 Cor. 1:4-7
  • Phil. 3:20-21
  • 1 Thess. 1:9-10

Next week we’ll see why the end is not here yet.
There’s excellent news coming, so be sure to tune in.

Antiochus in Egypt
(2 Macc 5:1, 11–26)

16 When Antiochus saw that his kingdom was established, he determined to become king of the land
of Egypt, in order that he might reign over both kingdoms. 17 So he invaded Egypt with a strong force, with
chariots and elephants and cavalry and with a large fleet. 18 He engaged King Ptolemy of Egypt in battle,
and Ptolemy turned and fled before him, and many were wounded and fell. 19 They captured the fortified
cities in the land of Egypt, and he plundered the land of Egypt.

Persecution of the Jews
20 After subduing Egypt, Antiochus returned in the one hundred forty-third year.c He went up against
Israel and came to Jerusalem with a strong force. 21 He arrogantly entered the sanctuary and took the
golden altar, the lampstand for the light, and all its utensils. 22 He took also the table for the bread of the
Presence, the cups for drink offerings, the bowls, the golden censers, the curtain, the crowns, and the
gold decoration on the front of the temple; he stripped it all off. 23 He took the silver and the gold, and the
costly vessels; he took also the hidden treasures that he found. 24 Taking them all, he went into his own
land.
He shed much blood,
and spoke with great arrogance.
25 Israel mourned deeply in every community,
26 rulers and elders groaned,
young women and young men became faint,
the beauty of the women faded.
27 Every bridegroom took up the lament;
she who sat in the bridal chamber was mourning.
28 Even the land trembled for its inhabitants,
and all the house of Jacob was clothed with shame.

The Occupation of Jerusalem
29 Two years later the king sent to the cities of Judah a chief collector of tribute, and he came to
Jerusalem with a large force. 30 Deceitfully he spoke peaceable words to them, and they believed him; but
he suddenly fell upon the city, dealt it a severe blow, and destroyed many people of Israel. 31 He
plundered the city, burned it with fire, and tore down its houses and its surrounding walls. 32 They took
captive the women and children, and seized the livestock. 33 Then they fortified the city of David with a
great strong wall and strong towers, and it became their citadel. 34 They stationed there a sinful people,
men who were renegades. These strengthened their position; 35 they stored up arms and food, and
collecting the spoils of Jerusalem they stored them there, and became a great menace,
36 for the citadeld became an ambush against the sanctuary,
an evil adversary of Israel at all times.
37 On every side of the sanctuary they shed innocent blood;
they even defiled the sanctuary.
38 Because of them the residents of Jerusalem fled;
she became a dwelling of strangers;
she became strange to her offspring,
and her children forsook her.


c 169 B.C.
d Gk it


39 Her sanctuary became desolate like a desert;
her feasts were turned into mourning,
her sabbaths into a reproach,
her honor into contempt.
40 Her dishonor now grew as great as her glory;
her exaltation was turned into mourning.

Installation of Gentile Cults
(Cp 2 Macc 6:1–17; Mt 24:15; Mk 13:14)

41 Then the king wrote to his whole kingdom that all should be one people, 42 and that all should give
up their particular customs. 43 All the Gentiles accepted the command of the king. Many even from Israel
gladly adopted his religion; they sacrificed to idols and profaned the sabbath. 44 And the king sent letters
by messengers to Jerusalem and the towns of Judah; he directed them to follow customs strange to the
land, 45 to forbid burnt offerings and sacrifices and drink offerings in the sanctuary, to profane sabbaths
and festivals, 46 to defile the sanctuary and the priests, 47 to build altars and sacred precincts and shrines
for idols, to sacrifice swine and other unclean animals, 48 and to leave their sons uncircumcised. They
were to make themselves abominable by everything unclean and profane, 49 so that they would forget the
law and change all the ordinances. 50 He added,e “And whoever does not obey the command of the king
shall die.”
51 In such words he wrote to his whole kingdom. He appointed inspectors over all the people and
commanded the towns of Judah to offer sacrifice, town by town. 52 Many of the people, everyone who
forsook the law, joined them, and they did evil in the land; 53 they drove Israel into hiding in every place of
refuge they had.
54 Now on the fifteenth day of Chislev, in the one hundred forty-fifth year,f they erected a desolating
sacrilege on the altar of burnt offering. They also built altars in the surrounding towns of Judah, 55 and
offered incense at the doors of the houses and in the streets. 56 The books of the law that they found they
tore to pieces and burned with fire. 57 Anyone found possessing the book of the covenant, or anyone who
adhered to the law, was condemned to death by decree of the king. 58 They kept using violence against
Israel, against those who were found month after month in the towns. 59 On the twenty-fifth day of the
month they offered sacrifice on the altar that was on top of the altar of burnt offering. 60 According to the
decree, they put to death the women who had their children circumcised, 61 and their families and those
who circumcised them; and they hung the infants from their mothers’ necks.
62 But many in Israel stood firm and were resolved in their hearts not to eat unclean food. 63 They
chose to die rather than to be defiled by food or to profane the holy covenant; and they did die. 64 Very
great wrath came upon Israel. 1


e Gk lacks He added
f 167 B.C.
1 The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (1 Mac 1:16–64). Nashville: Thomas
Nelson Publishers.


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