Paul was telling the church at Thessalonica that they shouldn’t panic when people come around saying that Jesus had already returned. Yes, Jesus is coming back, to be sure. And it will be a very good thing when He does, but there are some things that must happen before that takes place.
And then Paul tells them a few things to look for. We’ll look at them again, but it’s important to know that these are not the only things that must happen before the Lord returns. Some people have made a career trying to decipher all of the prophecies given in the Bible about what are often called the “end times”, and while it is interesting to study this subject, it’s more important to live our lives in such a way that we fulfill our part of the Great Commission, the last thing Jesus said before he was taken up to Heaven. In Matthew 28:19-20 He said: “…go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”
Some have gotten off the track. They’ve forgotten about those parting instructions of Jesus and focused on watching for His return, and in the process have gotten so out of whack that they have ruined lives. Don’t do that. Look for the signs, but stay busy doing the business that He told us to do.
And with that, let’s look at the signs Paul pointed out here in 2 Thessalonians.
In the second chapter, verses 3 and 4 Paul said: Don’t let anyone trick you in any way. That day will not come until people rise up against God. It will not come until the man of sin appears. He is a marked man. He is sentenced to be destroyed. 4He will oppose everything that is called God. He will oppose everything that is worshiped. He will give himself power over everything. He will set himself up in God’s temple. He will announce that he himself is God.
I have to tell you that when I read that, it sounds like it could happen any day. People are turning against God all around the world. If you are aware of the news reports, you know what I’m talking about. The recent Supreme Court decision is but the latest example of the United States thumbing its nose at God. And make no mistake, that decision was just the court reacting to the very vocal segment of the population that doesn’t care what God’s Word says. It’s not the first time, and it isn’t the last that people will demand that God not be considered in making policy.
But is isn’t just an American phenomenon. Much of Europe has already turned its back on God. The same is true of Asia. Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world right now. And make no mistake, the god of Islam is not the God of the Bible. I could spend hours comparing and contrasting Allah with the true and loving and holy God of the Bible.
It seems as if the world is ready for the one Paul calls the man of sin. It’s my personal belief that this man could very well be alive today. Yes, I believe that the time is very short before these things happen.
My job is not to stop everything and wait for that day to arrive. Nor is that your job. Our job is to remember and do what Jesus told us to do. Make disciples. Live in such a manner that others will see a difference, a *good* difference in you. Let them see that even though the world may be falling apart, you have the peace that passes all understanding because you know the One who holds the future.