The Day of the Lord
Dr. Joe Temple

Introduction

Open your Bibles, please, to chapter 2 of the second Thessalonian letter, that portion of the Word which we are studying together. We want to consider today the first twelve verses of II Thessalonians, chapter 2. We read from verse 1:

I Thessalonians 2

1Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him,
2That 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.
3Let 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;
4Who 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.
5Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?
6And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time.
7For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.
8And 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:
9Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,
10And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.
11And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:
12That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

You will remember that we have suggested to you that the theme which Paul emphasizes in both first and second Thessalonians is the theme related to the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. Perhaps more than any other one or two books in the Scriptures is the coming of Christ emphasized in these two letters. The reason that he emphasized the Second Coming of Christ in these two letters as he did is that he had told them a great many things about the Second Coming of Christ while he was with them on a very brief visit of several months, but he did not have the opportunity of completing what he had to say to them at that time. That becomes evident if you will look at verse 6, where he said:

I Thessalonians 2

6And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time.

He had told them a number of things about the coming of Christ and he wanted to re-emphasize and add to what he had already told them. The reason that the apostle wrote the words that we have read in your hearing today is that they had misunderstood some of the things that had been said about the Second Coming of Christ. They had misunderstood these things because the Devil saw to it that they were about to be robbed of one of the most precious truths that the Christian can hold in this day and time.

You know, the Devil does not always work in the way that we think he does. So often we think of the Devil only in relation to what we call “sin,” in relation to morality and immorality and ungodly living. But sometimes the Devil doesn't even tempt you along those lines. He knows that you are not particularly interested. But if he knows that you are interested in some specific truth in relation to the Word of God, he tries to get you mixed up about that truth, and he tries to get you to go too far, or he tries to get you not to go far enough. It is difficult to maintain a happy medium in relation to spiritual things because the Devil is either going to see to it that you freeze to death spiritually or that you burn up spiritually. He is not going to let you stay on an even keel. Such was the case in relation to the Thessalonian believers and the truth that was related to the Second Coming of Christ, hence the verses of Scripture which we have read.

Now I would like to suggest that we consider these twelve verses from a threefold standpoint. First of all, we will consider the entreaty that is represented in them. Then we will consider the explanation that is presented, and then we will consider an exhortation that of necessity must come from the verses that are before us.

An Entreaty to Sound Thinking

When I suggest that we look at these verses of Scripture from the standpoint of an entreaty, I am referring to the first two verses of this second chapter. Look at them again with me, please:

I Thessalonians 2

1Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him,
2That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled,…

We stop right there for the moment in order that we might notice the entreaty which Paul presents. The Apostle Paul always looked upon the Second Coming of Christ as a source of joy and a source of hope. When he was the most discouraged, when he felt like he couldn't go on another step, he reminded himself that the coming of Christ was a reality. He reminded himself that the coming of Christ was the hope of the Church. That is the reason that he says here in the first verse, “We beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him…” He said to them, “You are troubled, but think about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

He describes it with two words. One is the word “coming.” The word “coming” is the word that means the “presence” of the Lord. It comes from the Greek word *ULparousia*UL which actually means “the very presence of the Lord.” He is saying to them that one day the Lord Himself is going to come. And then he mentions another word–“our gathering together unto Him.” This word that is translated by the phrase “gathering together” is translated in the book of Hebrews, chapter 10, verse 25, by the word “assembly.”

If you are familiar with Hebrews, chapter 10, verse 25, you will remember that it represents an exhortation that the believers in question should not forsake the assembling of themselves together as the manner of some is, but exhorting one another and so much the more as you see the day approaching. Here he is talking about Christians gathering together each Lord's Day, Christians assembling as we have assembled in this place today. Now, he says when the Lord Jesus Christ comes it is going to be a great assembly. All the Christians are going to assemble together on that day. Here in the city of Abilene, for example, there are Christians assembling in this place on Butternut Street; and then in various locations here in the city of Abilene other Christians are assembling together, but when the Lord Jesus Christ comes, all the Christians from all the different locations are going to assemble together with the Lord in the air.

Is there anything to be afraid of when you think about a great truth like that? Is there anything to be alarmed about when you think about a great truth like that? Certainly not. It is something to which we can look forward with real joy in our hearts. “Therefore,” said Paul, “on the basis of that, on the basis of the fact that it is going to be a grand and glorious time of reunion, I beseech you.” What he is saying here when he says, “I beseech you,” is, “I ask you as an equal. I am going to share in that assembly, and you are going to share in that assembly. If we are all going to be together in the presence of the Lord one of these days I want to beg of you that you not be troubled; I want to beg of you that you not be soon shaken in mind.”

Look at the thing that brought about this particular discussion. In the first part of verse 2 Paul said, “That you be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled.” The apostle recognized that these Thessalonicans had a real problem. They were startled; they had been shocked. As a matter of fact, this phrase, “shaken in mind,” is a phrase that means, “turned away from sensible reasoning.” You have been so shocked that you have not been thinking straight. You have been so shocked that you are not even considering things logically, and as a result you are troubled. The word “trouble” here is a word that describes a continual state of agitation.

Now, I would digress just a moment from our original subject of discussion to point out a lesson that will be valuable to most of us, if not all of us–namely, that most of the states of agitation through which we go and in which we find ourselves are related to the fact that we have been turned away from sensible reasoning. We have been turned away from logical conclusion, hence there is a troubled state of mind as a result. And that is particularly true when we do not logically reason concerning God's constant care in behalf of His children. There would be no worry, there would be no agitation, there would be no trouble if we were not turned away from the logical reasoning by some means or other.

Deceived By the Devil

Now, these particular people here were turned away from their logical reason by the Devil. If you will look at verse 3, he said:

I Thessalonians 2

3Let no man deceive you [these men were led by the Devil who did deceive them] by any means: for that day…

And in verse 2:

I Thessalonians 2

2That 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.

Look at the phrase, “the day of Christ,” in verse 2 and recognize that that phrase, “the day of Christ,” is actually, “the Day of the Lord.” If you were to read this in the original text, you would not find the word for Christ; you would find the word for Lord. Why the translators have put in the word “Christ” is not known to anyone, but they did. Actually it is the “day of the Lord.” The reason I make that distinction is that the day of the Lord is mentioned many, many, many times over in the Word of God. And it is always a phrase which describes a period of time which is to come upon the earth which will be characterized by intense judgment. It is more familiarly known to many people as the “Tribulation.”

If you are thinking, you can see why these people were agitated. You can see why they were troubled. They had been led to believe that they were in the middle of the Tribulation. They had been led to believe that the Lord Jesus Christ had left them on the earth to go through a terrible judgment. Paul, of course, had spoken to them in a different way about this. Paul had told them in I Thessalonians, chapter 5, that this “day of the Lord” was coming all right, but he said, “You are not going to have to go through it.”

No Christian is going to have to go through the Tribulation. No Christian is going to have to go through this day of judgment. You are going to be delivered; you are going to be delivered by the coming of Christ; you are going to be delivered by that gathering together we talked about earlier in our discussion. But here they had been led to believe that Paul was wrong, and the sad thing about it was they had been led so to believe by being deceived into thinking that Paul had changed his mind.

Consistency Related to Doctrine

Here again, I would digress a moment and say that consistency, though it may be a very rare jewel in relation to most of us, is a most essential commodity if we are to stay steady in the things of God. If you and I can be consistent in relation to our stand in connection with the things of God, nine-tenths of our battles would turn out to be victorious. Particularly is this true, I have discovered, in the relationship that exists between parents and children. I am sure that all of us who are parents have faced the temptation to to inconsistent. We have taken a stand on the Word of God because we believe the Word of God is true, and then the pressure is brought to bear, either by children or by friends of children, by parents of other children, and the first thing you know, because we are standing consistently on the Word of God, we are led to believe, and almost convinced, that we are the most awful people in the world. And we consider wavering a little bit. And we consider that we ought to give in here or give in there, and the moment we do we have lost the battle because consistency based upon the Word of God is the only thing that is going to keep people steady.

Consistency is so important for Bible teachers and preachers. I am quite sure that any preacher who has been very forceful in his statements related to the Word of God could create all manner of consternation if he changed his opinion about the Word of God. Now, I am not suggesting that a preacher ought not to walk in all of the light that he has, but I am suggesting to you that a preacher ought to know whereof he speaks before he speaks because if he cannot be consistent in his stand on the Word of God, a great many people can be led astray.

Now, these folk thought that Paul had changed his mind. That becomes evident if you will look at verse 2 again, where he says:

I Thessalonians 2

2That 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.

Some of these men were going about saying, “Have you heard? Paul had a special revelation from the Lord [that's the meaning of the word ”spirit“]. And Paul has decided now that everyone is going to go through the Tribulation.” And then, some of them came along and said, “Haven't you heard? Paul preached a sermon over at Berea right after he left Thessalonica, and he is preaching over there that everyone is going to go through the Tribulation.” That's the meaning of the word “word.” And then some of them even got a letter, an epistle like this one that we are reading from, and they forged Paul's name to it. In that letter they wrote the things concerning what we are talking about, that people were going to have to go through the Tribulation. And so Paul said, “Don't believe it even if you get a letter that looks like it is from us.” And that is the reason, if you will look at verse 17 of the last chapter of this very letter, Paul found it necessary to sign these letters with his own hand. He never had before. The first one he didn't sign with his own hand, but he did here.

I Thessalonians 3

17The salutation of Paul with mine own hand, which is the token in every epistle: so I write.

So he said, “Don't be deceived.” The manner in which these people were deceived is not so important. The principle is that the Devil will endeavor to rob you of every real truth in the Word of God by the matter of inconsistency.

Three Evidences of the Tribulation

Now, the apostle said, “Let's get back to reasoning. Let's get back to logical conclusions. Let's solve this problem that has arisen by looking at things as they are.” And you know, that's the best way in the world to soothe troubled hearts. That is the best way in the world to disperse doubt. That is the best way in the world to do away with things that agitate people. Let's look at the facts. He said, “These people say that you are in the midst of the Tribulation. These people say that you are going to suffer the judgment of God. Well, all right, let's look at the facts.” And he looked at three of them. He says, “It is absolutely impossible for the Tribulation to come until three things are very definitely evident.” And I want to give you three words to describe them so that you might remember them.

Apostasy to Come

The first word is the word “apostasy.” The second word is the word “Antichrist,” and the third word is the word “anarchy.” Now, Paul said that the Day of the Lord cannot come until first the apostasy occurs. Look at verse 3:

I Thessalonians 2

3Let 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;

You say, “Well, I don't see the word 'apostasy' in those words.” That's right, you don't; but the word “apostasy” is one word that describes this phrase “falling away.” This phrase “falling away” comes from one Greek word from which we get our English word “apostasy,” and what it really means is that people actually turn away or forsake the truth of God's Word.

If you will turn to the Acts of the Apostles, chapter 21, you will see how this original word is translated by one word. In Acts, chapter 21, verse 21, we read:

Acts 21

21And they are informed of thee, that thou teachest all the Jews which are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs.

Look at the word “forsake.” It is the translation of the same Greek word that is translated “falling away.” The Holy Spirit was saying that Paul was teaching that people ought to forsake the Old Testament, and in this portion of the Word at which we are looking the Spirit of God says that the Tribulation cannot come until a worldwide apostasy has occurred, a worldwide forsaking of the truth.

If you are very alert today you know that there is apostasy occurring on every hand, people turning away from the Word of God. That is but a forerunner of the great apostasy which is going to come, because when this apostasy actually occurs there will not be one person believing anything related to the Word of God as far as ecclesiastical systems are concerned. That certainly was not true in Paul's day, and we know it is not true in our day. I do think we ought to recognize the fact that the little bits of apostasy all around the world are increasing in great numbers, preparing the way for the apostasy that is to come, and that indicates to us that we are approaching the end of time.

Antichrist to Be Revealed

Notice again II Thessalonians, chapter 2, as we mention the second thing that is a necessity if you are in the midst of the Tribulation. In the last part of verse 3, again:

I Thessalonians 2

3…and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;

The man of sin, the son of perdition, is the Antichrist. He is the individual who is to make his appearance on the earth in the midst of the Tribulation. Now, several things are said about the Antichrist so that you might recognize him, and it is important for you to know these things because there have been many lesser Antichrists arisen ever since the Lord Jesus Christ went away. But this one has certain characteristics. Notice verse 4:

I Thessalonians 2

4Who 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.

Now, very simply put, it means that the Antichrist is going to sit in the Temple in Jerusalem and demand that all the people of the world worship him. Well, when this particular portion of the Word of God was written, the temple was destroyed; there was no temple. There is not a temple today, but there is going to be one built in the city of Jerusalem. My, it is intriguing to me to see the emphasis that is placed upon that part of the world. Today I heard a newscast about the Pope's visit to Jerusalem, which, incidentally, I think is significant prophetically. It was a thrilling thing to hear the announcer say, “This report is being brought to you from the city of Jerusalem.” A few years back, nothing like that occurred, but we are approaching the end of the age and one of these days the Antichrist is going to take his seat right there in the temple, and he is going to insist that everyone come and worship him.

If you will look over at verse 8, you will find that he is called “the wicked one” and that he is going to be consumed when the Lord Jesus Christ returns to this earth. And if you will look down at verse 9, you will find that he gets all of his power from the Devil and that he will have great power and that he will be able to perform miracles which will deceive even the most staunch people who believe that they cannot be deceived by anything at all.

Anarchy to Reign

Now, the third thing that we would like to leave with you today is built around the word “anarchy.” Why is it that the Antichrist and all of the wickedness that he represents has not yet made his appearance? Look at verse 6:

I Thessalonians 2

6And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time.

Literally, that is, “you know who withholds,” that is preventing the Antichrist from being revealed before his time actually comes. Look at verse 7:

I Thessalonians 2

7For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.
8And 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:

And anarchy takes over. If you think this is a wicked world in which we are living today, and it is, if you think it is a wicked world, you haven't seen anything yet. When this individual who is restraining wickedness, who is putting clamps on, is taken out of the way, then this wickedness will break loose like a mighty flood, and this will become the most wicked world that anyone has ever seen, and this wickedness will all center in the person of the Antichrist himself.

Unless we find these three signs about us, we do not need to think that we are in the midst of the Tribulation.

Now, a word of exhortation that is based upon what we find in the Scriptures and upon what we are able to notice from what we said to you today. You have noticed that several times over I have mentioned that we are approaching the end of the age. You must believe that. All of the signs that are related to these three essential signs are about us. Apostasy is fast approaching; there cannot be doubt about that. The stage is being set for one world religious ruler. Why do you think the Pope is visiting in Jerusalem today? Why do you think for the first time in 500 years the Pope at Rome has been welcomed by Jews and by Greek orthodox Catholics and by Russian atheists? Why? Because God is setting the stage for the fulfillment of the prophecy found in chapter 17 of the book of Revelation when all religions will in incorporated into one and the Antichrist will become the religious leader of the day.

We are approaching the end of the age. And if we are approaching the end of the age, then we as Christians should be greatly concerned about those of our loved ones who will have to go through the Tribulation. If we are approaching the end of the age, then we as Christians ought to increase every effort, double every energy, to reach men for the Lord Jesus Christ before they go through this period of judgment. And should I be speaking to someone who does not know the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior, you should be concerned. For if we are as near the end of the age as it appears we are, and you remain in your present condition, you will go into the Tribulation. And if you do, you are utterly and hopelessly lost.

Refusal to Accept the Truth

Notice verse 10 of this passage of Scripture, where we read that:

I Thessalonians 2

10And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.
11And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:
12That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

Notice three statements that describe the unsaved man of the present hour. You will notice in verse 10, individuals who are unsaved today receive not the love of the truth that they might be saved. They just won't receive it. It isn't that they haven't heard it. It isn't that they don't know it. They have heard it time after time after time, but they have not received it. Look down at verse 12:

I Thessalonians 2

12That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

They have not believed it. They have refused to accept it, consequently, they would not believe it. And if you will look at the last statement of verse 12: “They had pleasure in unrighteousness.”

Now, you may not like to think that is true today, but if you are not willing to receive the truth of God's Word as it is, then you have pleasure in unrighteousness whether you believe it or not. Now, if you are such as we have described, you are going into the Tribulation; and if you do, you are going to be part of unrestrained sin, unparalleled tribulation, and unlimited deception. Will you look at that first phrase of verse 10: “With all deceivableness of unrighteousness.” Very literally rendered, that is “evil's undiluted power to deceive.” You, even though you may have a tendency to turn to God during the Tribulation, because the Devil will have undiluted power to deceive you, if you will look at verse 11, “God will send you a strong delusion that you might believe a lie and in believing that lie you might be condemned forever.”

The atmosphere in which a person can turn to Christ is always important. It is easier for people to turn to Christ in certain situations than it is in others. For example, I have heard people tell me, “I couldn't ever accept the Lord in a public church service; I am too frightened, but I can accept the Lord at home.” And the Lord Jesus Christ has become real to them in their own home. There have been others who would tell you almost at once, “I accepted the Lord Jesus Christ in a public service because the atmosphere was such that I couldn't resist the call of the Spirit of God.”

Conclusion

It matters not today how many different kinds of atmospheres there may be that are conducive to one's acceptance of Jesus Christ as Savior. We want to say to you that if you are unsaved today and you enter the Tribulation, there will be nothing conducive to your accepting Jesus Christ as Savior and everything contrary to your doing that. And so I would say to those of us who know the Lord today, by way of exhortation, let us redouble our efforts to bring men to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ because I believe the time of the Tribulation fast approaches. And if you are here without the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior today, don't waste another moment. There is no prophecy to be fulfilled before our gathering together unto Him. And the moment that gathering occurs, the Tribulation begins, and this about which we are speaking will occur.


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