Matthew 24 and 2 Thessalonians 2
When Jesus’ disciples asked Him, “When is the end going to be? What is going to be the sign of Thy coming?” He went into quite a bit of detail to try to explain to them and prepare them for what was coming. He told them a whole long list of events which would be signs of the times, all the things that were going to happen for the next 2,000 years before He came—earthquakes, pestilences, wars and rumors of wars, strife, and all kinds of things. He said, “But the end is not yet” (Matthew 24:6). That’s not the end—although it may feel like it, sound like it, and look like it when you hear of some of these terrible catastrophes.
“When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, whoso readeth, let him understand” (Matthew 24:15). Daniel didn’t understand; people hadn’t understood for generations. But Jesus was starting to preach then, “You’d better start understanding.”
In another place, it says the Abomination of Desolation is “set up” (Daniel 12:11), and Jesus says it stands there. That sounds like an idol, the image of the beast.
“Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains” (Matthew 24:16). Why does He particularly specify Judaea here? Jerusalem is the place where the Abomination of Desolation is going to stand, in the holy place. The holy place in Jerusalem is the temple area.
I’m more inclined to think that if the image is going to have the glory and admiration and worship and adoration of millions of people, it’s going to have to be standing outside someplace where it can be seen. The temple building was very small; only a few hundred people could even get in.
The temple grounds were very large, and thousands of people could stand in the outer courts. There was an inner court and an outer court, and even the inner court was divided into a place where the people could go and a place where only the priests could go. Gentiles who were believers were only allowed in the outer court. The Jews reserved the inner court for themselves, and of course only special people got inside the temple itself.
Only the high priest went behind the veil once a year to see the Ark of the Covenant and make sure it was still there. They tied a rope to his ankle so that they could pull him out in case God was angry with the people and struck him dead when he appeared before the Lord bearing the people’s sins. If the burden of sin was big enough and God struck him dead, they couldn’t go in there to fish him out; so they had a rope tied to his ankle by which they could pull him out.
“For then shall be Great Tribulation such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.” That begins the Great Tribulation. “And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved” (v. 21–22). How short? Only 1260 days, three and a half years, 42 months. That’s a pretty short time for a world emperor that has power to rule over most of the earth. Otherwise man would destroy the earth and destroy everybody; this is what the scientists are afraid of.
“But for the elect’s sake, those days shall be shortened.” Who are the elect? The select—the selected ones, the chosen ones, the separated ones, the saved ones. For your sake.
“Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and by our gathering together unto Him, that 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” (2 Thessalonians 2:1–2).
He says, “Don’t get all shook up, thinking that the Lord’s just about to come.” A lot of people were probably saying, “The Lord’s going to come any moment.” He can’t, He won’t, because all the prophecies haven’t been fulfilled yet. The world hasn’t gotten bad enough yet; its cup of iniquity is not filled. You think it’s bad now? Wait till the Antichrist comes. You think conditions are bad now? Wait till the Tribulation!
“Let no man deceive you by any means. That day shall not come”—the day of Christ, the day of the Lord’s coming and our gathering together to Him—“it shall not come except there come a falling away first”—that’s a growing cold, becoming lukewarm like some Christians today—“and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition” (v. 3). Jesus is not going to come until after the Antichrist is revealed.
“Who 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, showing himself that he is God” (v. 4). What a blasphemy! What a sacrilege, what an abomination of desolation!
“Remember ye not that when I was yet with you, I told you these things? And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time” (v. 5–6). It’s talking about the Antichrist being revealed. What’s perdition? Hell. The fiery hell, the Lake of Fire. Not just the grave or Sheol or paradise or limbo, but hell. He is the son of hell.
“For the mystery of iniquity doth already work.” Already clear back in Paul’s time, this mystery of iniquity was working. “Only he who now letteth”—the meaning here is preventeth, holds back the flood of iniquity—“will let, until he be taken out of the way” (v. 7). The Lord is holding the Antichrist from appearing and keeping the flood of iniquity from engulfing the world. “Until he be taken out of the way.” Until God allows Jesus to stand back and let the flood of iniquity go; take the dam away and let the flood engulf the world.
“And then shall that Wicked be revealed” (v. 8). “Wicked” is capitalized. It means that Wicked One. Again it’s talking about revealed; he’s going to be revealed then. He’s certainly going to be revealed by that time, and possibly even long before that. We don’t know for sure, but that’s when we will certainly know. We will know even when this Covenant is signed that he’s around, whether it’s signed in secret or publicly.
“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.” The Lord destroys him when He comes at Armageddon.
“Even him whose coming is after the working of Satan, with all power and signs and lying wonders” (v. 9). He’s going to do miracles. “And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness” (v. 10). If there was ever a great deceiver, it’s going to be this guy. “In them that perish.” He’s only going to deceive those that perish, at least deceive them to the point of accepting him and getting branded.
“Because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.” Here’s another proof that it’s not talking about the people who have never heard the gospel and don’t know how to be saved and don’t know the truth. It’s talking about people who were given the truth but rejected it. They’re the ones that are going to accept the Antichrist and be branded with his mark. They had their chance. They heard and they refused, they rejected, they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.
“And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie” (v. 11). The Antichrist is the big lie, the false messiah. Everything about him is a lie.
“That they all might be damned who believed not the truth” (v. 12). They had a chance to believe the truth, but they refused it. It’s not talking about people who never heard. It’s not talking about the in-betweens who later become the anti-Antichrists and the people whom God spares through the Tribulation and Wrath of God and Armageddon and allows to live into the Millennium to give them a chance. It’s talking about the people who heard but are damned because they believed not the truth.
“But had pleasure in unrighteousness.” They enjoyed ridiculing the Bible. They enjoyed evil and ungodliness, and things that are ugly; they love violence, cruelty. It’s almost unbelievable some of the things people like to watch in movies nowadays: actual crimes, the violence committed right before your eyes, chopping up people, shooting people, stabbing people.
They love violence; they love war or these pictures wouldn’t be so popular. So seldom do you get a nice family-type picture that’s just family scenes or romance or love story without a lot of violence in it. They’re afraid they’re going to lose their audience if they don’t have enough violence. They “believed not the truth and had pleasure in unrighteousness,” all kinds of unrighteousness.
Copyright © March 1981 by the Family International