Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 2 * PART 2 * BOOK 43
Then Shall the Wicked One Be Revealed – Part 2
II Thessalonians 2:4-9
(Transcriber’s note: In this lesson, Les will make some comments about things he taught in the previous lesson that you did not hear or read about. The reason for that is we had to re-tape that previous program because after viewing it the quality wasn’t good enough. So remember Les had to wait an entire month, and it was hard for him to remember just exactly what he had covered in the previous program. But I’m sure that you will enjoy it just as we do.)
Now, as you study, ask the Lord to enlighten you, because as we constantly stress, unless the Lord opens our heart, this is a closed Book. So as you study with us, you also prayerfully ask the Lord to open the truth to your understanding. Now let’s get back to where we were in II Thessalonians chapter 2. Remember now that Paul is writing to a small group of believers up in the city of Thessalonica, there in predominantly Northern Greece. And, it’s a group that he had only spent a few weeks with and yet it was a group that he had brought so far with their understanding of the Scriptures, that he could say “and you know.”
There is more to this than meets the eye. See, when the Apostle Paul brought these people out of paganism, their whole understanding of this was uncluttered. They didn’t have to undo forty or fifty years of false teachings and and false doctrines in order to see the truth. They were virgin territory. And, we have noticed that, even with people who write, that they probably had had almost nothing of a spiritual understanding. Unbelievable, but sometimes in just one program, the Lord totally opens their heart. Well, again, it’s because they haven’t been cluttered with a lot of other things over the years. And so, this is what Paul had here. They were pagans recently converted by Paul’s Gospel. Then he could certainly write, don’t you know these things?
Alright, verse 6 is where we quit in our last study, how that there has to be a restraining force now, beginning at some point in human history to hold everything in check lest things start rolling too fast and the anti-Christ would make his appearance before the right time. I think that is all that is implied here, is that God has instituted a restrainer so that the anti-Christ could not be brought on the scene ahead of time. Hopefully, we made plain that the restrainer is the work of the Holy Spirit, as he indwells you and I as believers.
In closing of the last lesson, I mentioned that even in Israel tonight, with the tremendous chasm between the secular ( how shall I call it), the unbelieving Jews. They take no respect for the Scriptures, the Old Testament, as they are secular. They don’t take God in their lives at all. In fact I was reminded, as I read that little article, when Iris and I were in Israel the very first time. That goes back too many years! We came out of the hotel dining room after dinner and a well dressed, Jewish business man said “You are from America, aren’t you?” We said, “Yes.” He said, “What do you think of our little country?” Well we were impressed with how far they had come in just those few years after the Six Day War. So, I just earnestly said, “It’s amazing what God has done here!” Do you know what his answer was? “God didn’t have a thing to do with it. We did it.”
Well, see that’s the secular attitude. They think God has nothing to do with it. But you see, on the other hand, you have that percentage in Israel who are still, what we would callreligious. They are Orthodox and they are still spending their time in the Old Testament scriptures. But, it’s gotten to the place that the secular part of Israel will be for anything that the religious segment is against. And visa versa. Whether it’s political, economical, moral, whatever. As soon as those Rabbi’s express themselves, the secular world comes up against it.
Well you see, we are in the same situation in America. Not quite to that extreme, but we are up against the same thing. Just as soon as we try to oppose something, then we are just called mean spirited. We are just simply against everything. Well, of course we are. It is our responsibility as believers to stand against these things that we know are Biblically wrong. Yet our nation has become so secular now, that regardless of what the outcome may be, they are going to be counter against us, simply because we are standing on the Scriptures. But, this is our role. This is why God has left us here. We can be used of the Holy Spirit to be a restraining force to hold back these forces of evil. Because we know, that the minute we are out of here (and we are going to see that in the next verse) that the wickedness is going to run rampant across the planet. And, that is what justifies the wrath and vexation of God. Now verse 6.
II Thessalonians 2:6-7a
“And now ye know what withholdeth (or the one who restrains) that he (the anti-Christ) might be revealed in his time. (or not before the time.) 7. For the mystery (or the secret) of iniquity doth already work:…”
Now there is probably a debate, “When does Paul feel this mystery of iniquity began?” Did it begin as soon as he went out among the Gentile world with the Gospel? Possibly, but I prefer to think that this mystery of iniquity actually began at the tower of Babel. And, my reason for thinking that is every false religion, even our modern day cults (and throw them in with the Oriental religions) – they all have their roots going right back to the tower of Babel. Everything false goes back to the tower of Babel. Then if you have done any study at all of these false religions, you will notice that almost all of them, at the core of their belief system, are what they call, the mysteries. Now, you just think for a minute. The Oriental religions are mystery religions. And it is simply because only the inner sanctum of their priesthood have access to these mysteries. You will find this, all the way up through every false religion. And so this is what makes me think that this term mystery refers to all these false pagan religions that even Paul was confronting now, face to face, by bringing these people out of it. Indeed, the mysteries of paganism, of false worship, have been already revealed and were on the scene as Paul wrote this letter.
II Thessalonians 2:7a
“For the mystery (secret) of iniquity doth already work:…” It was permeating the whole human race. Now the next part is also interesting. There is a lot of debate over it, but I believe if you just look at it in the big picture, that Paul is dealing with the Body of Christ being taken out before this final seven years of wrath comes in. So he says in verse 7.
II Thessalonians 2 : 7b
“…only he who now letteth (hindereth) will let (hinder) until he be taken out of the way.”
Now those are personal pronouns. So again, I am thinking you have to give the credit to the Holy Spirit. The personal pronoun that “he who now hindereth,” the indwelling Holy Spirit, is the same Spirit that we saw in verse 6 “will hinder.” He’s never going to stop. He’s never going to give up. I have always felt that this hindering work of the Holy Spirit is such that until the Body of Christ is gone, it’s going to be like a dam in the river. And the iniquity is just piling up and piling up, just like a large reservoir. Alright, so look at the verse again.
II Thessalonians 2 : 7b
“…only he who now letteth (hindereth. Now I know that the King James says letteth, but again if you have a Bible with a marginal, they have all realized that the word meaning has changed 180 degrees. So the person of the Holy Spirit who) will let, (hinder) until he be taken out of the way.”
Now, if the Holy Spirit is working in the believer today to withstand the forces of wickedness, then it stands to reason that as soon as he is taken out, it will be like the floodgates of wickedness that will come over the world. Come back with me to Luke chapter 21. These are the words of the Lord Himself, and since the Lord of Glory spoke it, I think we have every reason in the world to believe it! He knew the end from the beginning, even as He walked on earth. Here He is making a prophetic statement that a lot of people think will take place at the end. But, He’s not. He’s speaking of the destruction of Jerusalem by the Roman General Titus in 70 AD.
“And they (the Jewish people) shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: (now there’s the clue that this is not referring to the end time or Armageddon or anything like that, because, at that time Israel will not be dispersed but rather they will be made ready for the kingdom. So this is a reference to the 70 AD destruction of Jerusalem.) and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, (in other words, they would be under Gentile control. From the time of Titus’ destruction of the city) until (there’s your time word. Doesn’t give the day and the month and the year, but there is a day, month and year, when it’s going to happen.) the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.”
Now we realize that the times of the Gentiles are the filling up of the wrath of God. And, the comparison that I always like to use is Genesis chapter 15. Where in another time of God dealing with a Gentile group of people, he had the same mindset. That he would give these Gentile nations, which we now know as the Canaanites, who were in the land while Israel was down in Egypt. But He deals with them on the same basis. That is why I think it is appropriate to compare these two portions.
“And he (that is the Lord) said unto Abram, Know of a surety (I like that kind of language, don’t you? This isn’t gobbledy gook, this isn’t guess work. This is fact.) that thy seed (that is, the seed of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob further down the line) shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, (a reference to Egypt) and they shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years;”
Now we just talked about that at break time and it would seem that they would have been in slavery the whole four hundred years, but we know from chronology that they were not. So this is not a reference to the total time in Egypt in slavery, but rather from the call of Abram until Moses leads them out in the exodus, would be the four hundred years (or the 430 really.) Alright, but the 430 years is not what we came here to look at.
“Also, that nation (Egypt) whom they shall serve (God says) I will judge:” Well now you know He did that. The plagues took care of that little bit of prophecy.
“and afterward (that is after the plagues) shall they come out with great substance. (and you know that happened) 15. And thou shall go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age.” And we know that happened. He lived to be one hundred and seventy five. Now verse 16.
“But, in the forth generation, they (the children of Israel, down in Egypt remember) shall come hither again:…” (that is to Canaan, where God is speaking to Abram). Now why is God waiting four hundred years?
Genesis 15: 16b
“…for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet (what’s the word?) full.”
Alright, what’s the picture? God is going to give those Canaanite nations four hundred years to come out of their life of abject immorality. Because God knows, it’s going to take that long. But even after four hundred years, instead of coming out of that iniquity, what happened? They went deeper and deeper until it got to the place that almost every despicable act of immorality, the Canaanites practiced routinely. Now, when their cup of iniquity was full, the four hundred years had now been completed. What did God decree on the Canaanite people? Destroy them! Don’t leave an old man of years or an infant of days. Cleanse the land of them. Why? Because they had had four hundred years to clean up their act and they rejected it. As a result of it then, God in complete fairness and justice poured out His wrath on those Canaanite nations and gave the land to the nation of Israel.
Put those two segments in comparison then and come back to Luke 21 and you have the same kind of a picture. God has now been giving the Gentile world 1900 plus years of His Grace. The Gospel is going out across the world in one way or another. And they are having every opportunity to come out of their wickedness. But instead, what’s happening? They are going deeper.
I don’t trust the media an awful lot, but some things ring true. For example, the AIDS epidemic is just getting beyond human comprehension. Now they like to keep it quiet, but the fact is there are areas of the world (according to an article in the Daily Oklahoman) where in a few more years there will not be enough AIDS free people to actually run the government. And what’s causing it? Well, basically wickedness, immorality.
Now, I know there are a lot of innocents, but for the most part, it is triggered by their gross immorality. And as you read the accounts around the world of how all of the civilized world is just going deeper into the things of the flesh. Well, what are they doing? Just like the Canaanites, they are filling their cup of iniquity. And it’s going to come to the full mark when the Day of the Lord is triggered. And the “Day of the Lord” is going to be that outpouring of the wrath and the vexation of God. Now back to II Thessalonians. So this is all of the background that Paul has poured out on these young in the Lord. So he says –
II Thessalonians 2:7a
“For the mystery of iniquity…”
This outpouring of wickedness, this outpouring of the desires of the flesh. Come back to Galatians, let’s see what the Book itself calls it. That’s the best way to explain it. The Book is far more graphic than I dare to be. And these are the things that are causing the world today to fill up their cup of iniquity. When it is full, Jerusalem will finally come out from under the rule the Gentile world. Now in this verse, he is dealing with you and I as believers. We are in the midst of all this and it is a warfare.
“For the flesh (the old Adamic nature) lusteth (or I like to use the word warreth) against the Spirit, (the new nature) and the Spirit (war) against the flesh: (that’s our Christian warfare.) and these (two natures now,) are contrary the one to the other: (in other words they just have a hard time cohabiting, don’t they?) so that ye cannot do the things that you would.” Because the flesh says “Do this.” But the Spirit says “No.” And so we have to abide by the leading of the Spirit. Now verse 18 says:
Galatians 5: 18
“But if ye be lead of the Spirit, you are not under the law”
You are not under the temptations of the flesh. Now here it comes, verse 19. These are the things that we as believers, through the power of the Holy Spirit, are to withstand. These are the things that the world is reveling in. These are the things that the Canaanites reveled in. So we are to be aware that this is where we are as the Spirit now lead us.
“Now the works of the flesh are manifest, (and here they are) which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20. Idolatry, (see that’s what Paul had to deal with personally) witchcraft, (which is part and parcel of idolatry) hatred, (my we are seeing that show it’s ugly head) variance, emulations, wrath, (a lack of self control) strife, seditions,heresies,”
Never satisfied with things the way they are. In fact, most of your wars on the planet tonight are just exactly that. You have gorillas up in the mountains of all these various nations who are unhappy with the statue quo, and they cause misery on everybody else. That’s sedition. You know I think I read again the other day 43 wars are raging on the planet right now. Oh not world wars, but war nevertheless to the people involved. Their houses are being destroyed. Their women are being ravaged. It’s war. Alright, so sedition is part and parcel of it. Now verse 21:
“Envying, murders, drunkenness (boy I tell you what, we are getting so brainwashed, we are supposed to get to the place that even drunkenness is just supposed to be like kids play. I mean after all, they are kids, let them do it. But drunkenness is listed in these things that are of the flesh, and the things that God hates.) revellings and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” The next 2 verses are the other side of the coin and that is the behavior and the lifestyle of the believer. And what a difference.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23. Meekness, temperance against such there is no law.”
Now back to II Thessalonians again. We are just going to keep hammering away. The Holy Spirit dwelling in the believer is this restraining force, and what we have to be restraining is this iniquity that is already at work and has been for centuries. And, the Holy Spirit, working through you and I the believer will:
II Thessalonians 2:7
“For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth (hindereth) will let, (continue to hinder) until he be taken out of the way.”
Now just mull that over. You and I, lead by the Spirit, are to be a restraining factor against all these lusts of the flesh. And we are to be the force that God can use to maintain control and maintain a semblance of sanity. Because, listen, once the Christian influence is removed, you and I cannot imagine what this world is going to fall into. It’s going to fall into anarchy. It’s going to fall into absolute breakdown in everything moral and that in turn will bring justly then, the wrath of God.