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How to Have Steadfast Hope in a Shaky World

January 1, 2021 Save Article

2 Thessalonians 1 and 2

Have you been to a film or stage play where you got so caught up in the drama, you had to take a moment when it ended to remember it wasn’t real? The world’s stage is set for the drama of the ages, only this one won’t be make-believe. But too many Christians today are troubled and jittery. They don’t have steadfast hope in this shaky world.

God’s people shouldn’t be upset or dismayed. If you’re troubled by what’s happening today, Paul wants you to find rest:

…and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire, taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ…when He comes in that Day to be glorified… (2 Thessalonians 1:7-10)

We don’t know when Jesus will return for His church. But God wants us to have a settled faith, remaining calm in the face of unrest and turmoil. For that, we need a bulldog grip on the Word of God.

May the Holy Spirit write Paul’s encouraging words to the Thessalonians indelibly on your heart.

Don’t be dismayed.

Jesus Is Coming. Though these days are dark, our hope is not in politics or science but in the return of the Lord Jesus Christ.

When He came the first time, they spit upon Him, lied about Him, and then crucified Him. When He returns to rule on Earth, He will be crowned and glorified. Terror will strike those who have cursed and mocked Him, for He comes “in flaming fire taking vengeance” (2 Thessalonians 1:8). Please understand—God takes no delight in this, but He is holy; He will punish sin.

When will He come? No one knows. Jesus’ first coming was timed: He was born on time, died on time, and rose on time. His Second Coming will be the same. Our Lord is never early and never late. Malachi describes God’s timing as being like sunrise (Malachi 4:2). We can’t hurry the sunrise or delay it. It arrives on time. One day the Lord Jesus will pull back the shades of night and pin them with a star, open the door of morning, and flood this world with His glory.

What will His coming be like? “He comes in that Day to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe” (2 Thessalonians 1:10). The Phillips version translates it this way: “It will be a breathtaking wonder to all who believe.” When He catches away the Church in the Rapture, we’ll hear the trumpet sound and be caught up to meet Him in the air.

Don’t be deceived.

The devil is a deceiver—a liar and the father of all lies. After Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians, they received another one—a forged one, not from Paul—stating that they would not only undergo the Tribulation, they were already in it. It was a devilish lie. Church historians have never learned where the letter came from or who might have written it.

Paul addressed this crisis by writing his second letter. "Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him…let no one deceive you by any means" (2 Thessalonians 2:1,3). 

Paul explained to them that they hadn’t missed the Rapture.

  • A “falling away” takes place—a spirit called “the mystery of lawlessness,” great rebellion, a “revolt,” if you will, against God, paving the way for…
  • …“the man of sin”—Antichrist—to step to the center stage.
  • Remember, the Second Coming of Jesus Christ is in two stages:
    1. First, He comes secretly for His church (“the Rapture”).
    2. Second, He returns sovereignly with His church.
  • Between those two, there’s a period of seven years of tribulation on Earth while the Church is in Heaven at, among other events, the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.
  • The Antichrist is currently restrained by the Church and the Holy Spirit until the Church is taken out (2 Thessalonians 2:6-7).
  • At the Rapture, when the trumpet sounds, the Church will be removed (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).

For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus, we shall always be with the Lord.

  • Then the restraining power of the Holy Spirit will stand aside. Satan will be released; Antichrist, the epitome of evil, will take center stage.
  • Antichrist, a counterfeit Christ the world will gladly receive, arrives with the face of an angel but the heart of a beast. Just as Jesus was God in human flesh, the Antichrist will be Satan in human flesh. History began with the sin of man; it will end with the man of sin. Satan desires worship, and he will receive it through the Antichrist, “who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God (2 Thessalonians 2:4).
  • He will covenant with Israel to help rebuild the Temple in a period of about 3 ½ years. His hidden purpose is to enter that temple midway in the seven-year Tribulation, demanding to be worshipped as God. This is the “abomination of desolation” Jesus warned of in Matthew 24:15. The greatest tribulation ever is about to begin.

I believe Antichrist will come out of a reunified Europe. But until he’s revealed, “the mystery of lawlessness” is already working in this world (2 Thessalonians 2:7).

The world and the spirit of this age hate Christians. They want us gone. The Bible calls us “salt and light” (Matthew 5:13-16). Light reveals. Salt preserves, but it also stings and irritates.

One day this preserving, stinging, irritating salt and God’s revealing light will be taken out. Teaching the Word of God will be taken out. Antichrist will have his way, unleashing a floodtide of wickedness the world won’t be able to stop. He will subjugate the world by control over commerce and ungodly miracles. He’ll make you believe up is down, black is white, good is evil.

The Holy Spirit will still be on Earth. There’s no place that God is not. But don’t ever plan on getting saved after the rapture! Paul explains why:

The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 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. (2 Thessalonians 2:9-12)

Some people are saved after the Rapture, but not those who heard the Gospel, then refused it because they preferred their sin. God responds: “With your sin comes the baggage of unbelief, once the church is taken out.” They will believe the Antichrist, go into the Great Tribulation, then ultimately die and go to Hell.

To genuine followers of Christ, Paul says, You won’t be disappointed.

Jesus will return to Earth to defeat Antichrist and establish His millennial reign.

Back in verse 8 of chapter 2, Paul said the Lord “will consume (Antichrist) with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming.” When? At the battle of Armageddon. The Lord Jesus, who suffered in shame, will return in glory. He who wore a crown of thorns will wear a diadem. He who died in the sinner’s place will execute judgment upon those who refused such love. He came the first time to seek and save in mercy and humility. He comes the second time in judgment, power and flaming fire, to execute vengeance.

What does this mean for you today?

Intercession: You’d better begin to pray.
Soul-winning: Share Jesus now with friends or family members.
Family preparation: Get your children into the Word of God. Help them understand that what’s happening today is because the spirit of Antichrist and “the mystery of lawlessness” is already at work in the world.
Comfort: God will comfort believers’ hearts and “establish them in every good word and work” (2 Thessalonians 2:17). Don’t go around with headline hysteria.
Hope: We have a hope that’s steadfast and sure. Believers who study and know the Word of God are the only ones who really understand what’s happening.

If you want to be saved, the door is already unlocked. If you don’t know Jesus, you can begin to know Him today.
Give your heart to Jesus Christ. Pray this prayer:

Dear God, I know that I am a sinner. I know that You love me and want to save me. Jesus, I believe You are the Son of God, who died on the cross to pay for my sins. I believe God raised You from the dead. I now turn from my sin and, by faith, receive You into my life as my personal Lord and Savior. Come into my heart, forgive my sins, and save me, Lord Jesus. In Your name, I pray, Amen.

If you prayed this prayer, let us give you some free resources to help you begin your walk with Christ. Click here to get those resources.

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