II Thessalonians 2:1-12 Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you, brothers, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God. Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things?
And you know what is restraining him now so that he may be revealed in his time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. Only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way.
And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming. The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. ~ ESV
I was recently asked to clarify my views on the mystery of iniquity spoken of in II Thessalonians 2:7. The following is a clarification of what I have previously written about here on my blog. This is quite an expansion of what I had so for those who read about it before, there is quite a bit more here.
The mystery of iniquity in the context that Paul states it in II Thessalonians 2 has been occurring since the Noahic Covenant. It was at that point in time that God decided to work through sinful men to restrain evil via governments. Man is now allowed to require the life of another human being if they take a life, Genesis 9:5-6. Also, as we are multiplying throughout the earth, we are required to separate into different ethnic entities, also known as nations. The tower of Babel was a rebellion against this God ordained process, as nations are the vehicle through which man will restrain lawlessness. Government is ordained by God to restrain evil according to Romans 13:1-7, I Timothy 2:1-4, I Peter 2:13-17. In my opinion and I know that many disagree, this is the mystery of iniquity spoken of in II Thessalonians 2. How does God work through sinful man to restrain sinfulness? The idea of angelic forces backing governmental authorities is laid out in Daniel 10:13, 20-21, 11:1. Daniel 11 maps out in advance the structure that the government would take before it even happened. This is a combination of prophetic knowledge and predestination. Angelic beings are confirming kings and standing with them at specific points in history in order to carry out God’s divine plan.
How this applies to the end times is unique since there will be only one end of this present age. There will be an end times antichrist. At this particular juncture angelic influence steps aside, ceases to restrain, thereby allowing an end times governmental structure to prevail. It is a seven-headed, ten-horned beast according to Revelation 13. This occurs immediately after Michael and his angels shove Satan out of heaven to the earth, see Revelation 12:7-12. Government was originally intended by God to restrain evil, but this empire that will dominate the world will not do that having no holy angels backing it in the heavenly places. In short, Michael the restrainer will have stopped restraining. Once Michael stops restraining in the heavenlies, this end times antichrist and evil godless empire will be revealed. Daniel 12:1 can also be cross referenced here as Michael stands up (or stands aside) thereby resulting in a time of trouble for the people of Israel. The man of sin will sit in the temple proclaiming himself to be God. Lying wonders and satanic power will accompany his reign, but it will be cut short by the return of Jesus Christ who will consume him with the Spirit of His mouth. God will temporarily allow the saints to be overcome, but will cut this time short for the sake of His elect, Revelation 13:7, Matthew 24:21-22. The mystery of lawlessness is already at work because there are many antichrists in the world at present, see I John 2:18. But there is one final antichrist which is being held back by a restraining power.
When the seventh trumpet is sounded, the mystery will have been finished, see Revelation 10:7. The mystery of how God works through sinful governments to restrain evil will be a thing of the past. Now there will be a kingdom here on earth with Christ Himself as the head, see Revelation 11:15. He will be a King of kings. The kingdoms of this world will become the kingdoms of Christ, therefore there will be no more sinful governments in the way that this age operates, see Isaiah 9:6-7. It will be the next step in God’s progressive covenantal plan. The objects of accomplishment in Revelation 11:18 are in the aorist, which talks about complete actions without necessary reference to place in time. These are things that have been completed, will be completed, or perhaps just “are complete” is the best way to put it. The nations were angry, but His wrath has come which is the time for the dead to be judged. The time is also come for rewards to be given and for those who destroy the earth to be destroyed themselves. The wrath was already announced as impending at the sixth seal. Then destruction came upon the earth during the trumpets. This is the fire and brimstone type which was poured out upon Sodom and Gomorrah, see Luke 17:28-33. The nations were judged during the trumpet sequence. The earth, sea, and trees were destroyed during the first four trumpets, reformulating the present earth and heavens making way for the new heavens and new earth which will be present for the millennial reign of Christ, compare Revelation 8:6-13 with II Peter 3:4, 7, 10-13. Mankind was specifically judged during trumpets 5 and 6 as a part of the three woes, see primarily Revelation 9. Now the time has come at the sounding of the seventh trumpet for rewards to be given because the kingdoms of this world are become the kingdom of Christ. We as the church will receive our rewards by taking places of authority within His kingdom rule here on earth, see Luke 19:11-27, Revelation 5:10, Revelation 20:4.
There is no evidence that a rapture of the church is occurring here at the seventh trumpet. At the sixth seal, however, the church was seen having come out from the great tribulation, see Revelation 7:9-17. The 144,000 were also sealed at that time, see Revelation 7:1-8, to endure the coming wrath of God being supernaturally protected from it, see Revelation 9:4. So at the seventh trumpet, the church has already been raptured and entered the presence of God as He previously came out to pour out His wrath upon the earth, see also Isaiah 26:19-21. Now here at the seventh trumpet, the millennial reign of Christ is beginning, therefore the church can begin reigning with Christ here on earth. So rewards are being given here on earth at the Messiah’s judgment seat, also know as the judgment seat of Christ, see II Corinthians 5:10-11 and Romans 14:9-12 with Isaiah 45:22-25. The beginning of the Messianic reign and the rewards being given to the church as they begin to reign with Him here on the earth is the focus of the seventh trumpet, not the rapture of the church.
This progression can also be seen in prophetic apocalypse in the psalms. Psalm 92-99 is an apocalypse for the Sabbath. It shows a general progression from the intent of God to deliver His people (Psalm 92-93), seeing His people in the midst of tribulation (Psalm 94), the repentance of Israel (Psalm 95), God’s believing remnant proclaiming His coming kingdom reign (Psalm 96), then the glorious coming of the Messiah (Psalm 97). Psalm 98-99 is an alternate ending for the entire apocalypse and can be substituted for Psalm 96-97 which parallels it but expands upon it as well. But let’s focus on Psalm 94 because this is where the truth of what will be occurring during the great tribulation (or time of Jacob’s trouble) can be see albeit in prophetic apocalypse.
The question is asked in Psalm 94:3, “How long shall the wicked triumph?” It is stated that the wicked are breaking in pieces the people of God which is termed as His inheritance, see verse 5. The promise is given in verse 14 that God will not cast off His people neither forsake His inheritance. The question posed in verse 16 is answered in verses 17-19. The plea for someone to rise up against this wickedness is answered that it is the LORD who is Our Helper. The glorious appearing in 97:2-5 is the ultimate answer, but until that time it is the simple comfort of knowing God that brings peace to the soul. Then in verse 20 we see the heart of the evil in this end times empire. It has been at work throughout history at different places but now it is fully revealed. The throne of iniquity cannot have fellowship with God. This throne of iniquity is responsible for devising mischief by laws. In essence, it will be legal to do evil and persecute the people of God. God’s people will be framed as law breakers by the truly evil. In verse 21 it is more fully explained. The wicked who are in governmental authority having passed laws making it legal to kill God’s innocent people are gathering together against the lives of the righteous. The context of Psalm 94 as a whole shows that God is temporarily allowing this for a period of time for His purposes. What was in apocalyptic form in Psalm 94 is more fully explained in II Thessalonians 2. The throne of iniquity spoken of in Psalm 94:20 will be the seat of power for the antichrist. We see the seat of power for the beast in Revelation 16:10 described as his throne. Later as Christ is revealed, we see Him delivering the souls of the saints out of the hands of the wicked, see Psalm 97:10. We also see that the LORD will begin to reign in Zion and execute judgment and righteousness over all, see Psalm 99:1-4.
Thankfully, God has put a period at the end of the sentence. Even though presently there is corruption in government, and even though it will get worse at the end of the age, it is only temporary. God’s rule will eventually prevail and the mystery of iniquity will be a thing of the past. Read about it in Psalm 92-99.
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