Exclusive Studies by Paul Davidson
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“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. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; 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, shewing himself that he is God.” the Lord is at hand. They are troubled and shaken in mind. 2 Thessalonians 2:1-4.
I would like to speak on rebellion, the great sign of the coming of the Day of the Lord. Of all Paul’s epistles Thessalonians 1 and 2 speak most of Christ’s return. In 1 Thessalonians every chapter closes with the thought of Christ’s return. Evidently Paul had spoken often on this subject during his short stay there. (2 Thessalonians 2:5) Some questions had reached him from the Thessalonoian church about the Lord’s coming. He answers the first in 4:13-18, “The dead in Christ will be included in the rapture of His church, being the first to rise.” In 5:1-11 he answers the second question – When the day of the Lord would take place – which he answered by reminding them that the day of Christ’s return would be unexpected as a thief in the night. There must be constant readiness, and he assures them in 5:9, “God has not appointed them to wrath, but to obtain salvation.” Christ’s return is the blessed hope.
Some weeks later Paul receives news that a message has come to the Thessalonian church by prophecy, a word or letter supposedly from Paul, that the day of the Lord is at hand. They are troubled and shaken in mind.
So Paul in his second letter, 2:1-12, writes further on the subject of the day of the Lord, stating two things must happen before that day can come. The great rebellion must come first, and then the lawless one will be revealed.
To understand the day of the Lord and the events associated with it we must go to the Old Testament prophets, especially Daniel. Jesus spoke of that day (Matthew. 24:15), “When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place.”
It was in the early sixties. Our only daughter, so precious to us, was having a battle with rebelliousness. It was over a long period and very difficult for her mother and me. We were perplexed. What had we done wrong? She was so unlike herself. At times I would be awake much of the night, crying to God for help.
It was during this time I began to notice in leading news periodicals of student rebellion on some of the leading university and college campuses of the world – France, Peru, Kent State, and Berkeley in the U.S.A., and others. It was a phenomenon. No one seemed to understand it.
Personally I was seeking an answer to Why?, and was drawn to 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12, where it literally reads, That day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed.
I knew Paul was referring to a statement made by our Lord from Daniel’s prophecy, He shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvelous things against the God of gods. (11:36)
I began a serious study of Daniel, and for over half a year it was my constant companion. As I read it over and over, it was as though the light came on as I saw from chapters 2, 7, 8, and part of 11, the emergence of a man of lawlessness rising against God Himself.
In Chapter 2 the vision that Nebuchadnezzar saw and Daniel interpreted was that of a great image; A head of gold, breast and arms of silver, belly and thighs of brass, legs of iron, feet of iron and clay – a picture of successive world governments in a descending scale of importance: Babylon the first, the four others unnamed.
The focus is on the feet of iron and clay, the last form of human government, for it is in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up His eternal Kingdom. A stone cut out of the mountain without hands strikes the image at its feet, causing total collapse and the end of human government.
In Daniel’s vision (ch. 7) these four world kingdoms are represented by four beasts again, in a descending scale–lion, bear, leopard, the fourth unnamed. The focus as in ch. 2 is on the end. (7:7) I saw in the night visions, and behold a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible . . . diverse from all the beasts that were before it; and it had ten horns . . . (v. 8) there came up . . . another little horn, before whom there were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of a man. In the interpretation (v. 20), even of that horn that had eyes, and a mouth that spake very great things . . . (v. 25) he shall speak great words against the most High . . . and think to change times and laws.
But, as in the vision of ch. 2, his kingdom comes to an end. (7:26) the judgment shall sit, and they shall take away his dominion, to consume and to destroy it unto the end. (v. 27) And the kingdom . . . shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High . . . and all dominions shall serve and obey him.
In Daniel’s vision in chapter 8 of the conflict between the ram and the he goat, the additional detail is added that Medo-Persia is symbolized by the ram as the second kingdom, and Greece symbolized by the he goat as the third. But, as in chapters 2 and 7, the focus is on the end; (v. 9) out of one of them came forth a little horn, which waxed exceeding great … (v. 10) even to the host of heaven; and it cast down some of the host … (v. 11) Yea, he magnified himself even to the prince of the host … (v. 25) he shall also stand up against the Prince of princes; but he shall be broken without hand. He comes to his end by divine power, not human. Human history is the story of one kingdom replacing another, as Medo-Persia defeats Babylon, Greece defeats Medo-Persia, and so on. But in chapter 2 we notice heaven is in conflict with earth: the stone striking the image at its feet, destroying it. Why? Because in chapters 7 and 8 we see earth in conflict with heaven, led by a man who speaks great things against the most high and thinks to change times and laws.
John, in 1 John 4, calls him the Antichrist. Paul calls him the lawless one, and in 2 Thessalonians, chapter 2 he makes one thing clear, the revelation of the lawless one will not come unless the rebellion comes first.
Paul had shared this with them (2 Thessalonians 2:5-6), Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? 6. And now ye know what withholdeth (restrains him) that he might be revealed in his time. The mystery of lawlessness, (that hidden principle of rebellion against constituted authority), is already at work.
Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you this, and you know what is restraining him, so that he may be revealed in his time; for the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. Only he who now restrains it will do so until he is taken out of the way. The Greek word “anomia” in our KJV Bible is iniquity, others translate it lawlessness. Thayer’s Greek lexicon defines it as contempt, violation of law–a complete disregard for law.
In the sixties, the word rebellion was on everyone’s lips. Chrysler advertised, Join the Dodge Rebellion; a chain store in North Dakota, Join the Red Owl Rebellion. It filled our college campuses.
But as the sixties ended there seemed to be a lull in the spirit of Rebellion. Is there less of it today? Someone who knows God shared with me, “In the sixties it was unorganized. Today it is highly organized and militant.”
Let me quote from an article in the Humanist magazine that crossed my desk March 31, 1990:
“The battle for humankind’s future must be waged in the public classroom by teachers who correctly perceive their role as proselyters of a new faith, ‘The religion of humanity.’ The teacher must embody the same dedication as the most rabid fundamentalist preacher, utilizing the classroom to convey humanist values. The classroom must and will become an arena of conflict between the old and the new–the rotting corpse of Christianity together with all its adjacent evils and misery, and the new faith of humanism.”
We have witnessed the awesome change in the geo-political world–the dying of communism. But in its place the rise of secular humanism–far more dangerous! Its influence in school textbooks and the classroom has been to challenge every area of constituted authority, parental and state, creating a disrespect for law.
Ted Turner, founder and owner of CNN, speaking before a national convention of broadcasters, said, “Let’s change the date on our calendar. Eliminate A.D. Year of the Lord! Who is this Jesus anyway? Let’s start working for peace, then year one.” He was applauded, and later before a large convention of newspaper journalists he advocated the removal of the Ten Commandments as the basis of our judicial system and was again applauded! Little did he know he was stating the very purpose of the lawless one (Daniel 7:25) He shall think to change times and laws.
But there is one issue we are more familiar with – Pro-choice, Abortion. The recent militant march on the Statehouse of Idaho, with the threat to boycott recreation in Idaho and its potatoes, caused Governor Cecil Andrus to buckle under, though he is pro-life.
Our political leaders are being elected on the basis of their stand on pro-choice, abortion – not on their ability to govern. Remember this pressure is from women; militant, organized, striking at the most basic of all laws – the sacredness of life. Note God’s first command in human government in Genesis 9:5,6, Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed.
It was this crime against the innocents that brought judgment on Israel in Jeremiah’s day (19:4-5) they have filled this place with the blood of innocents, They have built also the high places of Baal, to burn their sons with fire; (32:35-36) to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire unto Molech, And now therefore thus saith the Lord, the God of Israel, concerning this city . . . It shall be delivered into the hand of the king of Babylon.
2 Thessalonians 2:7 tells us the mystery of iniquity (lawlessness)” is already at work.” One translation reads, The mystery of lawlessness, that hidden principle of rebellion against constituted authority, is already at work – authority which exists in the very nature of the relationship. God has been rejected as Creator by the unproven and unprovable theory of evolution. And now rebellion sweeps every area of life like a flood. You can see it in the arts and in the entertainment field in its obscenity and profanity. It is emblazoned on T-shirts as I saw on an attractive girl, “If you did it last night smile;” on another, a large beer and whiskey add with bold letters above, “Do it now.” It is on bills of caps and bumper stickers. Every area of constituted authority is being challenged – in the family, disobedient children and husband-wife relationships, and in the state lawlessness and violence.
What is Paul referring to when he writes in 2 Thessalonians 2:6, ye know what withholdeth (literally, ‘what restraineth, holds back the coming of the lawless one’)? Some say the Holy Spirit, others the Church. It is my deepest conviction Paul refers to law as the one force capable of checking the spirit of lawlessness. Without law there is anarchy!
Our courts are the last defense for the preservation of liberty and what we call civilization. But today our courts are under attack from many groups, especially the American Civil Liberties Union, which is not for the American way of life–certainly not for liberty. But it is a union dedicated to undermine the very foundations of our judicial system.
Recently Governor Martinez of Florida appeared on national TV with a leader of the ACLU. The issue was capital punishment. The ACLU argued that capital punishment was inhumane and certainly not a deterrent to crime. Wisely Governor Martinez replied, “That may be true, but it is justice.” That is the bottom line of law.
When the rule of law is removed–when it is no longer capable of restraining lawlessness, rebellion will break out on such a massive scale that it will bring about the appearance of the lawless one. The rebellion must come first.
Am I right in pointing to rebellion as the benchmark for the end time? The Jews are back in Palestine. Jerusalem, the great sign of the end, is in Jewish hands. In 1992 the European Common Market is in place–a revived Roman Empire!
God caused the collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe and Russia, getting the world ready for the final day–the Day of the Lord, when He will reveal His power and His work. That day cannot come before the final rebellion against God.
The expression “final rebellion” points back to the time it began. A careful reading of Genesis 2 and 3 will help us understand its nature. Note the repetition of “Lord God” in 2:5, 7, 8, and 9, made even more clear by 2:16 and 17, “And the Lord God commanded the man, saying … of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat,” designating God’s peculiar relationship to man. He is more than God the Creator; He is Lord God. In the temptation the serpent said to the woman (3:1), “Hath God said?” And she answered (verse 3), “God hath said,” but she left out the word “Lord.” The offer to be as gods appealed to her.
The same spirit of disobedience to God’s Lordship which caused our first parents to rebel has been with us ever since. (Eph. 2:2) “the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience.”
But there are moments in human history when we can see this spirit of disobedience operating in the world more clearly than others–moments when rebellion becomes a way of life, as in Israel’s history before God’s judgment in sending them to captivity in Babylon. It will pay you to read carefully the books of Jeremiah and Ezekiel, two men called to minister in that time of national rebellion.
Listen to their words (Jeremiah 2:31), We are lords; we will come no more unto thee; Then in 2:20, For of old time I have broken thy yoke, and burst thy bands; In response to God’s invitation to ask for the old paths where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls, they answered, We will not walk therein (6:16). When warning them of coming judgment (6:17), Hearken to the sound of the trumpet, they said, ‘We will not hearken. Note their last words to the old prophet (44:16), As for the word that thou hast spoken unto us in the name of the Lord, we will not hearken unto thee. Why?…one word – Rebellion. 4:17, because she hath been rebellious against me. But this people hath a revolting and a rebellious heart; they are revolted and gone. (5:23) This people has a stubborn and rebellious heart; (6:27) I have made you an assayer and tester among my people, that you may know and assay their ways; (v. 28) They are all stubbornly rebellious.
The same refrain is in Ezekiel 2:3, I send thee to the children of Israel, to a rebellious nation that hath rebelled against me … (2:5) they are a rebellious house … (2:6) they be a rebellious house … (2:7) they are most rebellious. Fourteen times in Ezekiel God referred to Israel as being rebellious. It had become a way of life, and God must judge, and He did! (Jeremiah 7:29) The Lord hath rejected and forsaken the generation of His wrath. Read carefully the bitter end of their national life and of their over 70 year long Babylonian captivity.
But you can see it again in Israel’s history when God sends His only Son to be born among men: Announced by the angels, For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord, Luke 2:11. and His voice from heaven, This is my beloved Son, at His baptism in the Jordan. His miracles of healing, raising the dead, and feeding the multitudes with a few loaves and fishes, testified He was God’s Son. Yet sadly He must say, Ye will not come to me, that ye might have life. John 5:40. I am come in my Father’s name, and ye receive me not . .. . another shall come in his own name (666, man’s number), him ye will receive. John 5:43.
As the end drew near He spoke of Himself in the parable of the nobleman who went to a far country to receive a kingdom and return. But his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, “We will not have this man to reign over us.” Luke 19:14. And Israel, in its highest act of rebellion, took Him to Pilate’s hall crying, Crucify Him! But for that act of rebellion came unparalleled suffering! Jesus’ prophecy in Luke 21:23, wrath upon this people, has literally been fulfilled in Israel’s history.
Rebellion against God’s rule has not, nor ever will, succeed. God has the final say!
David, in his second Psalm, is the first to give us a picture of the final rebellion. “Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision. Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure. Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion. I will declare the decree: the Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.” Christ, God’s anointed, is the appointed King to rule the world from Mt. Zion.
God waits for man’s ultimate act of rebellion that Daniel, Christ, and Paul spoke of – the lawless one, who in his opposition to God, exalts himself above God by taking his seat in God’s holy temple and proclaiming himself to be God. It will be at that moment God declares His wrath. And Paul wrote that a world wide rebellion precedes the revelation of that lawless one. The rebellion must come first.
Personally, I have a feeling it is already here. I never dreamed it would come so fast. Reared as a youth in what was largely a God fearing society, with a deep respect for law and even the Lord’s day, I am watching in horror as violence, lawlessness, immorality, obscenity and profanity pervade our national life.
Paul describes the coming of the lawless one in II Th. 2:9, 10, “Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth . . . (v. 12) that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” The name of the game today is pleasure. And Satan’s big lie is, “You can have pleasure in unrighteousness and still make it.” God says, “No!”
We are faced with massive deceit. How desperately we need the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth, to guide us. Seven times in Revelation, chapters 2 and 3, Jesus says, “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.”
The tragedy in Jeremiah’s day was that nobody was listening to God’s voice. I am afraid the same is true today. Rebellion, as in Jeremiah’s day, is becoming a way of life today.
What are the causes of rebellion? I asked myself that question again and again when our precious daughter was having such a battle with it. I knew from the Scriptures much of it comes from stubbornness. (Jer. 6:28) They are all grievous revolters, walking with slanders: they are brass and iron; they are all corruptors. Little did I know it stemmed from bitterness. It was the Holy Spirit that led me to know the words, “bitter” and “rebellious,” both have the same Hebrew root, “mar.” The bitter waters were called “Marah.” In Ruth 1:20 Naomi said, Call me not Naomi, call me Marah: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me.
Sociologists say our children are angry and bitter, and bitterness can lead to rebellion. Ted Turner, owner of CNN, is an example of this. When his parents divorced he was sent to a boarding school. His sister, whom he dearly loved, was desperately ill, and the minister who prayed for her prophesied she would be healed. She died. His father committed suicide.. And Ted Turner became full of rebellion.
What is the answer to rebellion? There is a passage in Isaiah 50:4-10 that speaks of Christ (v. 5), The Lord God hath opened mine ear, and I was not rebellious (Hebrew, “mar”), neither turned away back. (v.6), I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting.
In that darkest of all hours as He faced the cross, unjust as it was, He the Son of man, the second Adam, refused to become bitter, to rebel, praying, “Not my will, but thine, be done,” and died to end man’s rebellion. He offers me His cross as the one hope to end my rebellion.
I like the way Paul describes the final end. And then shall that Wicked one be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth. 2 Thessalonians 2:8. Poof! it ‘s over!
If by the breath of His mouth He brings an end to the world’s rebellion, ask Him to breathe on you. He breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost. John 20:22. He did it for our daughter Sue, who is now the lovely wife of Chaplain Wayne Simmons. I remember the day. We were living on the Indiana Campgrounds. It began with angry words. The Lord said, “Leave her with me.” I walked out of the house, biting my tongue, crying to God for an answer. When I was some distance from the house I happened to look back and saw her with her Bible walking toward the beach! The Holy Spirit is the answer. Ask for His help.