Years ago, while reading through 2 Thessalonians 2, I was struck by the fact that there is an apparent contradiction between verses 2-4 and 6-8. I also noticed that Dispensationalists use verses 6-8 to prove a pre-Tribulation rapture, while Post Millennials, Amillennials and Post-Tribulation Rapturists use verses 2-4 to “prove” a Post-Tribulation rapture; in other words one passage seems to say that the Church will be here for the Tribulation, and the other seems to say that we will be raptured out of here, before the Tribulation begins.
I have found a way of harmonizing both passages; we don’t need to ignore any Scripture to prove our point.
Here is the whole section;
1 Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him,
2 That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.
3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;
4 Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.
5 Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?
6 And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time.
7 For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.
8 And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:
Now, it is impossible for God to contradict Himself, and the Apostle Paul was a brilliant man, who knew exactly what he was trying to say. So, we know that there is no real contradiction here, so we must find a way to harmonize these two passages.
Really the answer is rather simple; There are two revealings of the Antichrist, to two different groups of people, at two different times.
Verse 3 says that the day of our “gathering together unto Jesus” (the rapture) will not happen until there is a great falling away from the faith, and the “man of sin” the Beast is revealed. Please notice also, that neither passage says we will be here for the Tribulation itself, only that we will see the Antichrist revealed, before the rapture. So which group of people will the Beast be revealed to, before the rapture?
Here’s a clue;
Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets. Amos 3:7
If we were to rank the top 5 events of earth’s history, apart from creation itself, I would rank them this way; #1) The resurrection of Jesus Christ, #2) The Cross of Jesus Christ, #3) The virgin birth of Jesus Christ, 4) The Tribulation and the return of Jesus Christ, 5) Noah’s flood.
Some would lump the birth, death, and resurrection into one event, and if so that would be number 1, but I believe each part is an important event itself.
The Tribulation is a greater event than the flood, because it will produce a greater amount of death than the flood, simply because there weren’t as many people on earth in Noah’s day than there are today. Noah was the lone preacher of righteousness in the days leading up to the flood, but today every nation has a gospel witness, and most have bibles in their own language. Therefore the current rebellion against God has greater consequence than the one of Noah’s day! Christian nations have turned against their God, and are embracing the paganism that their ancestors rejected for the gospel!
The Tribulation will also end with the personal, physical, return of Jesus Christ, to begin his reign for 1,000 years! So, an event the magnitude of the Great Tribulation is not an afterthought to God, and He certainly will warn the final generations before He brings down judgment against them.
So, who is in the place of the prophets today? Is there an office of “prophet” in the Christian Church?
There are Christians who do indeed fill the position of prophets, but they are not receiving dreams and visions today! On the contrary, today God speaks through His Word, and not through dreams and visions!
So how is He going to warn this generation? Simple; he is going to warn our generation through opening the minds and hearts of preachers, who will preach His truth to a hard-hearted generation! The Antichrist will be revealed to true Christians but he won’t have power to harm believers until after the rapture. In fact the persecution of believers will begin in earnest at the mid-point of the Great Tribulation.
Those who preach the first revelation of the Antichrist will be hated by professing Christians around the world. When he is actually revealed by this sign, the true believers will realize they were wrong, and will start to point out that the man in question is the Antichrist, and their audience will, for the most part, reject their message!
The audience will say something like “You used to oppose this message, as a Christian, so why should we believe you now?”
How is this possible? There are certain doctrines preached by many Christians that have their origin in Rome and Greece, and not in the word of God. They have been preached by professing Christians so long that most believe that this particular doctrine is essential for Christianity.
I didn’t understand what was going on until bit-by-bit, the Lord led me to understand what His plans are. The fact that there are prophesied events that will occur during the Church-Age was an eye opener to one who was always taught that the rapture could happen at any time. The fact that Israel became a nation again during the Church-Age is an indication that this was always God’s plan. There simply isn’t enough time in 7 years to build a nation from scratch! There isn’t enough time during the Tribulation for Israel to rebuild the Temple, to start the Sacrificial system again, and for the Antichrist to put an end to Sacrifices.
It will take much more than 3 ½ years for Israel to rebuild the Temple. With modern machinery, buildings can be built much quicker than in the past, but even so, archaeologists will want to thoroughly inspect the site first, not only to find any hidden treasures there, but also to ascertain the exact location of the earlier Temple. Then construction will begin, and it will take years! This is not a coffee-shop we are talking about here; it must be built correctly, and with care!
Once I understood that the Psalm 83 war must precede the Ezekiel war, of chapters 38-39, and that both are Church-Age events, then I realized that this time frame would be the most likely time for Israel to rebuild their Temple.
We can expect the Antichrist to have a hand in the rebuilding of the Temple at this time, in apparent fulfillment of Zechariah 6:12. He may make a large donation to the construction, and perhaps make some prominent speeches in favour of its rebuilding, which will come as a surprise to many, coming from a leader from a prominent Muslim family, especially one from the family that has custodianship of the Temple Mount today!
This may be a minor sign of the Antichrist but I don’t believe this is the one that Paul has in mind in 2 Thessalonians 2.
And in that day seven women shall take hold of one man, saying, We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel: only let us be called by thy name, to take away our reproach. Isaiah 4:1
The sign Paul has in mind is the one that Daniel alluded to in chapter 11, verses 36-37 of his book.
And the king shall do according to his will; and he shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvellous things against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the indignation be accomplished: for that that is determined shall be done.
Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers, nor the desire of women, nor regard any god: for he shall magnify himself above all.
The “desire of women” is a direct reference to the women of Isaiah 4:1. In this verse 7 women propose marriage to one man. This is a direct result of the carnage of Armageddon, which is spoken of in verse 25 of the preceding chapter; with the men of Israel having been killed-off during Armageddon, there will only be one man available for 7 women. Rather than only 1 in 7 women being able to marry, and thus have children, it is Jesus’ plan for all the survivors of Armageddon to be able to have a family.
Why would God allow this? First of all He loves people. He loves children, and He loves women. Every child who is born on this planet is another person who has the chance to receive Christ as Saviour, who can then spend Eternity with God! God loves giving people this chance!
For thus saith the Lord that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the Lord; and there is none else. Isaiah 45:18
In this instance it is the women themselves who come up with this plan, because they all have the God-given desire for a family. This is the desire that Daniel speaks of, and in the situation in which they find themselves the only way for them to have a family is for them to share their man, in the ratio of 7:1. These women love the other women who have escaped the Antichrist with them, and they don’t want to see their friends live without the opportunity to have a family, especially since these people will have extremely long life-spans.
Thus, these women are motivated by a great love for their friends, to be willing to share their man.
Some of this generation will live through the entire Millennial reign, and how sad would it be to live through the most wonderful time the world will ever know, without the chance to share it with a family of your own? God knows this; He’s the one who gave women this desire!
We know that this is God’s plan, because in verse 4 it identifies these women, and men, as being the holy ones who have survived Armageddon;
3 And it shall come to pass, that he that is left in Zion, and he that remaineth in Jerusalem, shall be called holy, even every one that is written among the living in Jerusalem: 4 When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning.
God’s indictment of these women, years earlier, comes in chapter 3, and as they have seen the horrors of the Tribulation they have turned to Jesus, and He has washed them clean with His blood! Both the men and the women of Isaiah 4:1 are believers in Jesus!
God has given us a very similar ratio, which occurs at the end of the preceding war, Gog/Magog, which shall occur near the end of the Church-Age, just before the Antichrist is revealed.
And I will turn thee back, and leave but the sixth part of thee, and will cause thee to come up from the north parts, and will bring thee upon the mountains of Israel: Ezekiel 39:2
These soldiers, survivors of the Gog/Magog war will find that as they return home that there are 6 women available for every survivor, only this time will be the time when the Antichrist is on the ascendancy. It appears that he will be appointed as an administrator of some of the attacking nations from that war, and as the women of those countries, with a Muslim background will expect to be able to marry men in a similar ratio to Isaiah 4:1, only this time the Antichrist will not care about, or concern himself with, the desire of women, as Jesus will, but he will prohibit polygamous marriages.
Many professing Christians will see reports of this, and their conclusion will be that this is “a man of God”! How horrible! What kind of a Christian would you be if you saw the Antichrist, and thought he was a “man of God”? You would be an Apostate Christian! A Christian in name only! You would be a “Christian” who does not believe the bible!
So we see that while many people see this sign of the Antichrist, most professing Christians will mistake the sign, and believe that they are witnessing the rise of a man of God, and a peacemaker! This is why it is so dangerous to accept man-made traditions as doctrine, instead of simply accepting the teachings of the bible, even the teachings of the Old Testament! God never prohibited the practice of polygamy in the entire bible, precisely because He plans to use it during the Millennial Reign! Those who think He did are reading their own ideas into the bible, and not taking God’s message our of it!
The truth is that there are many more prophecies of the End Times in the Old Testament, than there are in the New. Not only this but the New Testament prophecies are dependent upon the prophecies of the Old. Revelation itself has 500 references to the Old Testament. Since Daniel was locked until the time of the end, we can be certain that no one through the Church-Age was able to understand all of the prophecies of Daniel, until the time of the end draws near.
And he said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end. Daniel 12:9
Did he mean that the book would be sealed only until the End Times, the Church-Age, or did he mean that it would be sealed until the events of the End Times start to occur? I think he meant that Daniel’s book would be sealed until the events it speaks of begin to occur, which is our day, and just a few years earlier. I also think it is being progressively revealed, as one prophecy unveiled, sheds light on another.
Whether Augustine, Luther, or Calvin, none of these men understood the End Times, indeed they all neglected Revelation. I’m not talking about whether they were saved or not, but only of the fact that God had sealed Daniel until the day in which we live, and they could not understand His plan for the End Times. When God blocks the understanding of a portion of His word, though millions read it they can’t understand it until He reveals it!
I’m not certain that He has revealed everything in Daniel yet, but this I am sure of; that the preceding is exactly what Daniel 11:37 is talking about. This is the sign of the Antichrist, and the majority of Christians today are not prepared to accept it!
I hear some good prophecy teachers at times, men like Jimmy DeYoung, or Andy Woods, and I learn a lot from them, but when they get to this passage they still don’t get it!
You need to get your copy of “The Spirit of Prophecy”. In it you will discover much more than I can share in a short article, and you will see how Scripture supports what I am saying here. The truth is that this subject represents just one of nine chapters in the book, and each one is much more thorough than one can be in a brief blog post!