2 Thessalonians 1-3, Psalm 18
There is an intersection in Jamesburg which is difficult to navigate. In it cars come from 4 directions, but from odd angles. Approximately 15 yrs ago and not familiar with this area I was crawling through, when a large red pick up truck zoomed through, only to yell one obscenity after another towards me along with continuous hand and finger gyrations. Midway through her tirade, I rolled down my window, smiling I waved at her. It was then that she realized, I was the obstetrician who delivered her less than one month previously. Firstly, most people act without any accountability, especially on the road. But worse than that, she felt she was in a position and had adequately sized me up to judge and convict me. We see this all the time. Sean Hannity, who I often enjoy listening to, was hosting a large event for the families and victims of the recent Las Vegas shooting. During his presentation he proudly stated that Stephen Paddock, the shooter, was where he belonged, he went straight to hell. The crowd responded with shouts and cheers. Bill O' Reilly spoke similarly on his former show concerning the deceased Boston Bomber with a rather smiling confident face. Though many feel they are in a position to judge, in fact many feel they are even in a position to judge God, we come to a portion of Scripture which clearly illustrates that God and God alone is in charge. History is moving forward as He knows it will, but as we read of the culmination of things, the End Times, how reassuring it should be for us to know that in the end, God wins, and those of us who have chosen to abide in Him also win.
Many state that they avoid the book of Revelation, because it scares them. In 2 Thessalonians, Paul presents these future events as clearly as John in Revelation, but in a condensed form. In 2 Thessalonians 2:6-7, he explains what is preventing the antichrist from taking control now, "And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way." This He is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is present in true believers in the church. When the believers are removed in the Rapture, this restraining will be gone, and the antichrist can and will rise to power. The Holy Spirit will also be working during the tribulation, but primarily among the nation of Israel and the Jewish people who will begin to recognize Jesus for who He truly is. The Antichrist is described in 2:3-4, "...and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshipped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God." This antichrist will not at first show his evil nature and will be welcomed in the aftermath of the chaos of the Rapture. The world in chaos will throw their hopes on anyone who might seem like they can restore the status quo. Consider how much is overlooked in every election, as people place all of their hopes in terribly flawed candidates on both sides of the aisle if it satisfies their own personal agenda. Many find God interesting, but are unwilling to jump on the bandwagon now, preferring to continue to live in their current way without Him, but thinking they can jump on if they see these events unfold. After describing the working of Satan in 2:9-10 with wonders, lies and unrighteous deception, we read some words in 2:11-12, which should make any who procrastinate, reconsider, "And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness."
Though the world likes to see themselves and judge others in shades of gray, God sees the world as black and white. The world prefers pretty good and pretty bad. God sees it as good or evil. Though the world prefers to judge the world by its worst actions and themselves by their best intentions, God judges based on whether you are a true believer or not. It is only by repenting and accepting Christ's payment for our sins that the stain of sin is removed from us. We can't, in all of our good works, do it. We, being imperfect, do not deserve to spend eternity with a perfect God. But He in His love gave us the cure for our dilemma, His Son, Jesus. It's interesting, when my son, was deep in the world and began studying with me, four years ago; it was end times that aroused his curiosity and desire to know God better. These events will, not might, occur. We just don't know when. Eternity is too long a time to live life with a question mark as to our destination. Scripture has clearly laid out how you can know that you can spend eternity with God in heaven. We should all want to be sure of our own salvation, and reaching out to anyone and everyone around us to help them secure theirs. May we reach out to this desperate world that we find ourselves in.
Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley: