We waded into deep waters in today’s bible study. My heart was so full, my eyes were leaking. I really get frustrated with that. I teased, saying, “Either I am just exhausted (which I am), or maybe I really am a big ol cry baby!”
We are in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-17. Heavy stuff. End times heavy.
The writer of the letter, the Apostle Paul, is cautioning the church regarding the sharing of a false teaching. Some among them had been tripped up in an incorrect teaching concerning the second coming of Christ. The teaching was that the end was very near (2 Thess. 2:1-3). Paul proceeds to correct the false teaching he is cautioning them against. He reminds them of two great events that precede the second coming of Christ. He asks them if they remember him telling them this when he was with them (2:5). The first event that has to happen is an apostasy. This is a turning away from and rejection of God. It is a rebellion. This is followed by the revelation of the Antichrist. Paul prepares them by painting a picture on such things as the Antichrist’s name, his character, his rise, his fall and his reign. Along with this he reveals the sin and ruin of those who choose to follow him (2:4-12). He then comforts them against the terror of this apostasy, and encourages them to stand firm (2:13-15). Paul ends this challenging portion of teaching with a beautiful prayer for the follower (2:16, 17).
As I was doing my homework my heart was heavy. During the rebellion, things will be tough. As believers, we can expect to be hated. Jesus himself warns us of this in Matthew 10:22 and John 15:18-20. We shouldn’t be surprised, he has warned us so we are ready.
I felt the deep need to reach out and encourage our study group. As I felt fear of these times creeping into my soul I needed to encourage myself with truth and reach out to my sisters to encourage them. I felt like yelling, “don’t let fear sneak in where hope belongs!” I was speaking to myself more than anyone.
It is hard to study the end times. I tend to forget the promises of God to help his followers stand firm in these hard times. I get stuck in the reality of my own human weakness and in my failure to prepare my children adequately. I want to run to my friends who don’t know how much God loves them and beat them over the head with the truth. I start to forget what is my job and what is God’s job. Fear leads me to the wrong things.
That is why God gave me my husband. He is properly grounded, his default is to know, without doubt, that God will hold tight to his followers. He knows to the core of his being that God has this figured out and we do not need to give in to fear. He helped me get past the fear that was creeping in and remember truth. I am held tight in the arms of the One who has already won.
Through the power of the Spirit and the word of Truth, God will hold us fast. There are a few things I need to take from this study. The first is to focus on God’s victory and the promise of eternity with him. More than that:
1. Keep my head (2 Thess 2:2) I can not afford to be shaken. I need to keep my wits and focus on the truth. God has already won and I am on his side. That is what Craig helped me do, clearly I need work in this area!!
2. Don’t let anyone deceive me (2:3). I have to know the truth, be in the word, know the word and let it transform me. If I know the truth, I will recognize the deceiver.
3. I need to be prepared. I can know what to expect, this also comes from knowing the word. We do not know the time or the hour, but God has given us some information on what we can expect. There will be a time of rebellion. In that rebellion a man of lawlessness will come who sets himself up to be worshiped, will perform miraculous signs and deceive many (2:3-4, 9-10). Scripture tells us some of what to expect.
4. The Lord is in control and reigns. His breath alone will be enough to destroy the man of lawlessness (2:5-8).
5. I need to remain in the love of God. My identity is “sister, loved by God” (2:13). The NET version has a beautiful translation of this in the book of Jude 1:1, 20,21 , “From Jude, a slave of Jesus Christ and brother of James, to those who are called, wrapped in the love of God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ…”But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith, by praying in the Holy Spirit, maintain yourselves in the love of God, while anticipating the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that brings eternal life.”
6. I can remember that I have been called to obtain glory. I am saved ( 2:14)!
7. I need to stand firm and hold on to what I know the Bible teaches and the example I see in those who emulate Christ (2:15).
8. My faith is built by turning to God for comfort, encouragement, good hope and strength (2:16-17).
What ever we suffer in this world is just for a little while in the light of eternity. When we lack strength, we run to God. He gives us what we need for the moment, hour, day and week. When we lean on him, we find we can withstand the things that threaten to take us down or overcome us. I have found that when I cling to God, what I didn’t think I could survive for a moment, I have endured for years. The only way that happens is through complete surrender to him.
It is just for a little while! Hang onto Him and stand firm! Whatever we have to suffer on this earth is worth it for the promise of Eternity. That moment when we get to see God face to face, our tears will be wiped away. All suffering will be gone. All that is wrong with the world will be made right. Our Savior will look us in the eye and present us with our true name. We will live in Eternity with our Creator, the one in whom all that is good, true, creative, fun and enjoyable finds it’s source. The hope of Eternity is enough.
For now, for just a little while, we have to live on this broken planet.
Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by grace, gave us eternal comfort and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good thing you do or say. 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 (NET)