In this sermon, Pastor Joe Babij finishes looking at the sobering background information about the coming Day of the Lord from 2 Thessalonians 2:11-12. After reviewing the first three events of the future Tribulation period, Pastor Babij explains the final three events discussed in 2 Thessalonians so that believers will both be comforted but also ready for Christ’s return.
4. Divine Delusion (v. 11)
5. Divine Judgment (v. 12a)
6. Divine Exposure (v. 12b)
Okay this morning let’s take our Bibles and turn to several passages. We’re going to look at 2 Thessalonians and Zechariah. Remember two passages of Scripture that we’ve talked about. 2 Peter talks about the Day of the Lord in verses 10-12. That day is a specific day when the Lord will pour out His wrath. Now Scriptures not only admonish Christians to be ever watchful and ready for the coming of Christ, but a special blessing is conferred upon those who carefully study portions of Scripture that unveil the grand climax of God’s plan for history. It says in Revelation 1:3:
Blessed is the one who reads, and those who hear the words of the prophecy and keep the things which are written in it; for the time is near.
Christ is coming for His Church and we know what the repercussions are for not studying future things are far reaching. Once people ignore or dispose of the Word of God, they are actually opening up themselves to believing something that is false and not God’s plan. It becomes easier to believe a false narrative of a lie, especially if that narrative is repeated over and over again. People tend to believe it even though they don’t check out if it’s true or not.
So just by way of review 2 Thessalonians 2:5 says:
Do you not remember that while I was still with you, I was telling you these things?
Remember that someone circulate a false letter that said the Day of the Lord had already come. So Paul wrote this letter to show that it has not come because certain things have to happen when that day takes place. The falling away and the revealing of the man of sin are signs that fall within the early stages of the Lord. There’s a progression in the Day of the Lord and based on the findings of the Apostle Paul, it’s an encouragement for the readers to know that the non-occurrence of these signs means that the Day of the Lord has not even begun yet, even to this day.
The Day of the Lord is first triggered by the rapture of the saints in the air to meet the Lord and to be with Him forever, which triggers the start of God’s wrath and is then identified by the apostasy and the falling away of the truth. And then there is the revealing of the man of lawlessness and the coming of Christ for the Church is followed by an extended period of time in which God releases all the judgments within the tribulation period.
God’s children, the Church, whom He loves will be caught up to Himself before this pouring out of God’s wrath in the seven year tribulation period. Now, there is a timeline on the screen here of the events of premillennial eschatology. Premillennial is before the end times starts. There are three views. Amillennialism which is that there is no millennium. There’s post-millennialism which is that the millennium happens afterwards.
If you notice where the cross is in the timeline, this is the Church Age, which we’re living in right now. The Church Age lasts until the fullness of the Gentiles comes in. Only God knows that and at that point, He raptures the Church out and that’s the beginning of the seven year tribulation period which is also called the Day of the Lord, which extends right down to the end. After the seven year tribulation period, there’s the thousand year reign of Christ, who’s present now on the earth in that reign. Then the rebellion of Satan happens, who will be released from prison after that thousand years. And finally there will be the new Heaven and the new Earth.
Now all the views of this particular end time teaching end with the new Heaven and the new Earth but there are different interpretations of what happens leading up to that. So this morning we will walk through a pre-millenial interpretation of eschatology. So far we have examined in our texts the defiance yet to come in verses 2-3. Then in verses 5-6, there is a delay presently in effect which means something is held back. The mystery of inquiry is definitely working but it is behind the scenes and it is not yet fully revealed. What is holding that back is the Holy Spirit of God which fills the temple of God, the Church. The Church while present on this earth, is holding back iniquity despite all the evil.
Someday when the Church is taken out then that evil just progresses and becomes worse and worse. So thinking about that, I want to let you know that there is a difference between the rapture of the Church and the Second Coming. The rapture will be the believers caught up in the air. The Second Coming is the return and appearing of Christ and all humanity will be involved as well. The rapture happens in the air and the Second Coming happens on the earth on the Mount of Olives, which is where He left the earth the first time.
Then the rapture happens before the wrath and tribulation comes, which include the sealed judgments, the trumpet judgments, and the bowl judgments all mentioned in Revelation. The Second Coming comes at the end of the seven year tribulation period. The rapture happens to save believers from wrath, and the Second Coming saves Israel from the antichrist. The rapture happens as a surprise, like a thief in the night and the Second Coming happens as a climax of unfolding events occurs.
So that’s the difference between the two events because it is easy to get them mixed up. Getting back to 2 Thessalonians, we already looked at deception and destruction. In 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12 it says:
With all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false, in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness.
At that point, we see in 11 and 12 that God is going to unfold the rest of that. As I ended last time, we observed that Satan is not only behind this lawless one but is behind all his power to deceive so that the man of lawlessness will act in harmony and agreement with the working that is characteristic of Satan himself. He has the power to perform signs which will direct one’s attention during the tribulation period to the authenticity of his claims and the false wonders that will take place. And at the same time, he is holding the spectator or the observer awestruck so as to produce a desire of veneration in this end time man of lawlessness who is energized by Satan himself.
The antichrist will do things similar to how God does things and the reason is because the man of lawlessness is a counterfeit Christ and follows closely after what Christ has done. He uses his powers for specific reasons and a specific group of people. Look with me at 2 Thessalonians 2:10, which says:
For those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved.
So these deceptive workings of the lawless one are directed towards those who perish. The reason is given for their perishing and ruin and present lostness. The reason is because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. Putting it simply, they refused to believe the gospel and they deliberately rejected the offer of salvation which is the gospel. In contrast, they accepted the lying wonders and deceit. The purpose of the truth to those who obey and receive it is the salvation of their souls. But those who are unwilling to accept the love of the truth is equivalent to disobeying the truth.
Those who accept it is equivalent to those who obey the truth. So not only did they reject the love of the truth, but also manifested a disposition of distaste to the truth and they did not want to seriously consider God’s solution for sin, which is Christ. So keep in mind that the gospel is wrapped in God’s initiative for providing a remedy for sinful man. They were rejecting the message of love from heaven to mankind and they rejected the only solution to be made right with God. If you reject that there is no other way to salvation.
Now, let’s just say they are drowning in an ocean of their own sin but they are holding on to some kind of beliefs. Imagine they are floating along in some kind of vast ocean while holding onto a piece of driftwood. Let’s just say that the piece of driftwood represent the things they have been trusting into be right with God or have eternal life. Many of those things could be religious systems and are backed by good works. You have to do something in order to receive salvation. Some people just believe it’s an ordinance they are involved in or a sacrament they took. Or people believe it is the baptism they experienced or the philosophy of life they hold.
Everybody believes something. Let’s suppose that the Captain of the boat sees them and recognizes their problem and throws down a life preserver. They are immediately confronted with a choice. Do they let go of the piece of wood that represents all the things they are trusting in? Or do they continue holding onto that piece of wood and die. The reasonable thing to do is to take the life preserver.
Are you sure that this is what the Bible teaches about saving faith? They were doing the best they could and held onto things they thought and hoped the wood would give them eternal life. The fact is they couldn’t make it on their own efforts anymore than they could hope to swim to shore. There is a further problem that the Bible mentions that humans are spiritually dead and unable to reach out and grab the life preserver. They are unable to save themselves.
See, Jesus Christ is the initiator of salvation and He reaches out with His powerful hand to love and rescue sinners from condemnation of their own sins. He offers the preserver of eternal life, He dies in their place, takes the wrath of the Father for believers, pays the full price to satisfy the justice of God, dies by shedding His blood, and turns away the Father’s wrath to move us from being enemies of God to being friends of God. This grants us the authority to become children of God. Jesus offers the love of the truth, which is the gospel. God offers Jesus alone as the Rescuer and Saver. There is no one else qualified to rescue lost sinners.
So saving faith is always accompanied by repentance from sin. You have to turn from what you are trusting in to completely and totally in Jesus Christ. Repentance is really agreeing with God that you are sinful and making a conscious choice to turn from sin and pursue Christ in loving obedience. It is not enough to believe facts about Jesus or what He did. Even Satan and his demons believe in the true God but they don’t love or obey Him.
True saving faith always responds in obedience to the gospel. As God the Father draws a person and grants them faith in repentance, He makes them alive to believe. So God must judge sin and the only way we can be saved from that judgment is a personal trust in the Lord Jesus Christ who died on the cross, rose from the dead, paid the penalty of lost sinners. That means that true saving faith always comes to the end of themselves, their self-reliance and self-righteousness and turn to trust absolutely in Christ for forgiveness of sins and moral and spiritual renewal and eternal life. Remember, salvation must not only be granted by God but must be accepted or received. Repentance is turning and trusting in Christ.
Have you received the free offer of salvation today? If you were to die today, would you know where you are going? But if the offer of the free gift of life through Jesus Christ comes to a sinner needing rescuing and they refuse God and ignore the cross and the substitutionary sacrifice, what’s left? Well, what is left is for them to believe a lie. In this case and passage, they believe the lie. So what does God do when people refuse the love of the truth? Well He gives them what they prefer. That means refusing to believe God’s gospel brings its own consequences and judgment.
A person who hears the gospel and rejects Christ in this age of grace where grace and mercy are being poured out for anyone who would believe, they will not receive Him in the awful tribulation period. So when it finally comes and the group of people go into that period and the Church is taken out of here, what is God’s response to the rejecters of truth heading into the tribulation and in the tribulation? Here is the response in 2 Thessalonians 2:11:
For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false.
God does this to point back to the person’s rejection of the Truth. The phrase deluding influence is really the word energia which carries the meaning of supernatural activity or operative power or energy which carries really terrible results of the willful rejection and ignoring of the Truth. What is it that they should believe a lie? That’s the contemplative result. It’s just like what it says in Romans 1:25:
For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
There is no neutral ground or emptiness here. Either you believe the Truth or you believe something false. There always has to be this exchange from what is true to not true. God sends to them a work of error and confusion so they cannot distinguish between what is true and what is a lie. In other words, God gives sinners over to the very sin and error they have embraced. So here is a definite judicial act of God who gives the wicked over to the evil which they have deliberately chosen. You go to Romans 1 which says that God gave them over to the lusts of their hearts and their degrading passions. God gave them over to their depraved minds, which are not proper and filed with all unrighteousness.
We live in a day in which God is giving the nation over to their crazy mindsets. The mystery of iniquity is working very diligently to prepare the world or this time. Christians cannot be deceived and even when you go back to the Old Testament like in Psalm 81, God says in verses 11-12:
But My people did not listen to My voice, and Israel did not obey Me. So I gave them over to the stubbornness of their heart, to walk in their own devices.
You want to live like that? Go ahead. But in doing so, in the tribulation there will be no other chance. They believe the lie. The lie in Thessalonians was the claim of the antichrist to be a god greater than all gods. They believe the lie that if it is the truth, they want to believe in God, but not according to revealed Truth in Scripture but the signs that point to the reality of the claim. This keeps the rejector of truth spellbound in admiration of the lawless one as being god himself. It says in 2 Thessalonians 2:4:
Who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God.
Now we have a world that is not believing the gospel and has to live with the deluding influence of god. There is no hope in the tribulation apart from God’s divine intervention that He sends into the tribulation to bring the truth to those He chooses. The attention is going to mostly be on the nation of Israel. So they are rejecting God exposes them for who they are and what they delight in. There is a moral consequence falls upon them as we have already gathered. If you look at 2 Thessalonians 1:8 it says:
Dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.
The proclamation of the gospel is a call for obedience. If you decide to ignore or reject it, that is disobedience. Those whom the light of the gospel have shown and the sound has come but have not yet yielded obedience so as to heartily trust in Christ as the Savior on His terms, will be the chief malefactors in the day of judgment. Paul wrote in Romans 2:8:
But to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation.
See they obey something! But it just condemns them further. So because they refuse and reject Christ, the Way the Truth and the Life, what is left? Well look at 2 Thessalonians 2:12:
In order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness.
Divine judgment is the end result. The only thing left for God to do is judge them. No one will escape that. Man brings upon himself the ultimate judicial consequence of his chosen course of action. So part of God’s whole plan is to show this rebellion for what it really is and to let people have their fill of sin and allow it to run its course. The wages of sin is death, physically and spiritually.
Eventually God will put an end to all this. In his work, C. S. Lewis wrote a book called The Great Divorce. He says that Heaven is where the people who say, “God Your will be done” spend eternity. Whereas hell is a place where God has finally said to an unrepentant rebel, “Fine, your will be done. Now you will suffer the consequences of your own will.” And believe me, I’d rather God make the choice than me. David proved that in the Old Testament when God gave him a choice on what to choose. David said he would go with God because He is merciful.
Eventually, God must put His foot down and squash this age old rebellion. This is going to to happen in the battle of armageddon, which is the end of the tribulation period. Now, I’d like us to turn in our Bibles to Ezekiel 38. As you turn there, I want to show you the two battles that will take place in the tribulation period that will be against Israel. In the first part, Israel believes that this man is the messiah so they are trusting him. And then there is the first battle of Gog and Magog in Ezekiel 38:1:
And the word of the Lord came to me saying, “Son of man, set your face toward Gog of the land of Magog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech and Tubal, and prophesy against him and say, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, “Behold, I am against you, O Gog, prince of Rosh, Meshech and Tubal. I will turn you about and put hooks into your jaws, and I will bring you out, and all your army, horses and horsemen, all of them splendidly attired, a great company with buckler and shield, all of them wielding swords; Persia, Ethiopia and Put with them, all of them with shield and helmet; Gomer with all its troops; Beth-togarmah from the remote parts of the north with all its troops—many peoples with you. Be prepared, and prepare yourself, you and all your companies that are assembled about you, and be a guard for them. After many days you will be summoned; in the latter years you will come into the land that is restored from the sword, whose inhabitants have been gathered from many nations to the mountains of Israel which had been a continual waste; but its people were brought out from the nations, and they are living securely, all of them. You will go up, you will come like a storm; you will be like a cloud covering the land, you and all your troops, and many peoples with you.”
Now this is the battle of Gog and Magog and people believe that Rosh is Russia, Meshach is Moscow, Persia is Iran, and Ethiopia is the combined nations of northern Africa. These nations gather against Israel and it’s interesting that a straight line due north of Jerusalem is Moscow. The Bible does talk about the northern national. So Israel at this point believes she is going to be protected because of a treaty she made with the antichrist. Daniel said this in Daniel 9:27:
And he will confirm a covenant with the many for one week [7 years], but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come the one who makes desolate, until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, gushes forth on the one who makes desolate.
He allowed Israel to build a tribulation temple and to sacrifice in it and they have already planned to do all of that. This is where it connects to 2 Thessalonians 2:4:
He takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God.
At that particular point, all the enemies are in confusion but something is going on with the people of Israel. What happens in Ezekiel 38:21:
“I will call for a sword against him on all My mountains,” declares the Lord God. “Every man’s sword will be against his brother. With pestilence and with blood I will enter into judgment with him; and I will rain on him and on his troops, and on the many peoples who are with him, a torrential rain, with hailstones, fire and brimstone.”
Here is a fierce battle that God steps into and fights. It takes Israel seven months afterward to clean up. In the meantime, signs and wonders of the false prophet are continuing, as it says in 2 Thessalonians 2:9, along with the economic stronghold his system has on the world. You can’t buy, sell, or do anything unless you have the mark of the beast. So he will have a stronghold on the world. Also, there is the miraculous healing of the mortal wound that the antichrist received during an assassination attempt. In other words, a mock resurrection takes place where it tells us in Revelation 13:3-4:
And I saw one of his heads as though it had been smitten unto death; and his death-stroke was healed: and the whole earth wondered after the beast; and they worshipped the dragon, because he gave his authority unto the beast; and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? And who is able to war with him?
The antichrist is fatally wounded and comes back to life. What better thing to do to get the attention of the world? The problem is the Jewish people will not believe it anymore. As soon as he sat in the temple and desecrated it by claiming himself to be God, they began to turn away from him. His blasphemy in the temple where he declared that makes the Jews see the light and they began to turn away from him. The antichrist thought that the federation of Gog and Magog wold do in the Jewish nation but it did not because God stepped in on their behalf.
So the man of sin and the lawless one puts his ultimate plan into motion to annihilate the Jews and it’s called the second battle of the tribulation happening at the end of the campaign of armageddon. We find it also in another passages of Scripture. Megiddo means hill because it overlooks the Jezreel valley which has a lot of scriptural significance. This is the gathering place of the armies of antichrist against Israel. that campaign of armageddon can be seen as moving forward in about four stages. The first stage would be antichrist’s armies coming against Israel.
Then the Arab kings join in the confederacy against Israel and these armies gather on the plains of Megiddo, right in the middle of Israel in the country. The second stage is the destruction of Babylon in modern day Iraq happens as the Persians and Arabs move forwards toward Israel. The third stage is that they attack Jerusalem. There is terrible bloodshed as Jerusalem suffers horrible defeat.
Now let’s look back at Zechariah 14:2:
For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city will be captured, the houses plundered, the women ravished and half of the city exiled, but the rest of the people will not be cut off from the city.
Now, this is a very devastating situation for Israel because it is the antichrist planning to wipe out this nation forever off the planet. He has gotten most of the world against them. So Israel’s only hope is to call on God. There’s no other way out. Look in Zechariah 12:10:
I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn.
So they’re going to call out for God to help and Jesus comes and fights against those nations for His people Israel. Notice what it says in Zechariah 14:3-4:
Then the Lord will go forth and fight against those nations, as when He fights on a day of battle. In that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which is in front of Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives will be split in its middle from east to west by a very large valley, so that half of the mountain will move toward the north and the other half toward the south.
So Jesus comes with power, great glory, angels, the sound of the shofar or trumpet of God. That is what is recorded in Matthew 24:30-31 which talks about these days. It says:
And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.
He’s described in Revelation as coming as a righteous Judge who wages war. It says in Revelation 19:12-13:
And his eyes are a flame of fire, and upon his head are many diadems; and he hath a name written which no one knows but he himself. And he is arrayed in a garment sprinkled with blood: and his name is called The Word of God.
He comes on a white horse in defense of His people. This is the second coming of Christ when He comes into the world and begins His millennium reign. Jesus with the power of His mouth, and like a thermonuclear warhead comes against the armies of the antichrist and Jesus ends the war. Look at what it says in Zechariah 14:12-13:
Now this will be the plague with which the Lord will strike all the peoples who have gone to war against Jerusalem; their flesh will rot while they stand on their feet, and their eyes will rot in their sockets, and their tongue will rot in their mouth. It will come about in that day that a great panic from the Lord will fall on them; and they will seize one another’s hand, and the hand of one will be lifted against the hand of another.
Complete chaos. The true God Man, Jesus, will bring the man Satan, the antichrist and false prophet, to a swift end. The power that proceeds from the Lord Jesus is no match whatsoever for antichrist. It says in 2 Thessalonians 2:8:
Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming.
See this is what the Lord does for His people. So getting back to 2 Thessalonians 2:12, the only thing left for God to do is judgment. But what He does now is He exposes what they really love. It says:
In order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness.
They loved their sin. Here is the heart of the matter that God exposes the true enjoyment of their hearts. The heart is not the thing that pumps in the center of your chest, but the mind, the will, and the emotion. It’s who a person really is. One day everything will be exposed and brought to the light of God’s infallible scrutiny. Those who fear God and confess their allegiance to Christ have nothing to fear. But those who don’t fear God and did not believe have everything to fear. So God exposes here the true affections of their hearts. They took pleasure in wrongdoing, evil, sin, and injustice.
Just like what it says in John 3:20:
For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.
They don’t like the light because it exposes their hearts. Do you see how clear it is that if you do not obey the gospel, you obey something else? If you do not love the Truth, you do indeed delight in something else and there is no neutrality. There is no neutral position at all. There are only two alternatives when the gospel goes out. Either you believe the Truth or you believe a lie. Each of those have their own effectual results.
So those perishing have no love for the Truth and are therefore vulnerable to error and judgment. Having actively and willfully rejected God, they enjoy fellowship with the devil. They will very naturally follow after antichrist because their hearts beat with his heart. They beat in rebellion against the true and living God, against His plan, against His people. So I pray that the Holy Spirit may sweetly whisper to your heart if you have not trusted Christ as your Lord and Savior, that today would be the day that you do so and not put it off one more second. If Christ comes and the tribulation starts, you’re done. Now is the acceptable day of salvation.
If you are a child of God and if you are growing in your love for Jesus and making yourself ready for His return, then you should keep yourself on guard and sober-minded. Keep your hope completely on the grace that has been brought to us in the Word of God. And what if He comes today? Will Christ’s coming mean something to you? Will it mean comfort or tragedy? Will it mean rejoicing or remorse? Will it mean Heaven or hell? The real issue is this, have you truly believed God and put your personal trust in His Son, Jesus Christ the Savior? Now is the time to do so because tomorrow may be too late.
But also for those who believe, are you making yourself ready? Donald Green Barnhouse told a story that he read in the London newspaper about a divorce case heard in the courts in his city. It was about a wealthy young man that had gone away to war soon after he was married. His new bride wrote him of the demanding schedule she had to keep as a nurse in a certain hospital. Apologizing for her infrequent writing, she explained that she was spending a great deal of time with the wounded.
Some moths later when the man was scheduled for leave to go back home, a friend suggested to him not to announce his coming. Slip in quietly. Arriving in London, the young man went directly to the hospital to see his wife but she was not there. He then went to their home where he was told by his servants that she will probably be at the tea dance at the Ritz. Going there, he found in the company of another man. How shocked and ashamed she was at her husband’s sudden appearing.
Now when our Lord returns, we won’t want to be found flirting and preoccupied with the world or the things of the world. The more we move closer to Christ in loving Him, the more the world and its glitter and gold grows dim. But expecting Christ to return at any moment and living that way has a tremendous purifying effect on our lives.
Make yourself ready every day for His return. Today may be the day. Remember He is going as a thief. Are we ready? Our hearts should be focused on Jesus, the One whom we love. Our lives will be purified by the desire to be like Him and see Him face to face. What if He comes today or tomorrow or this week or this year? Are we ready? Are we staying ready? I pray that we are.
This is the admonition of Scripture: to be ready. We don’t know the time or the hour or the year. Just be ready and you’ll be fine. Let’s pray.
Lord this morning, we see in Your Word things that will take place. But it also exemplifies and magnifies for us the power of the gospel. It shows that Your plan will go forward and nothing can hinder it. You are for Your people. You will take Your Church out before that time and You will direct Your attention to Israel and bring her into the fold once more. Thank You, Lord, for what You have given us in the Word of God. We know You have given us enough to be ready, to look towards You, to trust You in all that we do everyday of our lives.
I pray, Lord, that we would be Your witnesses, Your ambassadors, and that we would be able to share the light of the gospel to those who have not heard it yet and admonish and encourage those who do know Christ to continue on and press on in the faith and not give up even though tribulation may come. Lord, we thank You again for exposing us to the reality of Your plan and I pray this in Christ’s Name, Amen.