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Until the Rebellion Occurs

2 Thessalonians 1-4

Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us, saying that the day of the Lord has already come. Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.

It is obvious from the above passage of Scripture that the church at Thessalonica had received a false prophecy, report or letter that told them that the day of the Lord had already passed them by. Those who believe in a pretribulation rapture attempt to use this passage of Scripture as a proof text for their position. Their argument is that the only justification for the agitation and confusion at Thessalonica was that the members of that church thought they had missed the pretribulation rapture. If they had missed the pretribulation rapture, then it was doubtful if they were truly saved. If they had missed the rapture and weren’t saved, then all of Paul’s teaching would have been suspect. Had they endured intense persecution for a false belief?

Paul letter clearly indicates that their false belief wasn’t in his presentation of the Gospel, but in their misunderstanding of the timing of the rapture. He tells the Thessalonians plainly that the coming of Christ for His church will not occur until the two following conditions are met:

1).That day will not come until the rebellion occurs.

The coming of the Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him will not happen until after the rebellion occurs. The theological doctrine of “imminence,” which means soon to happen, has been misinterpreted to mean at any time. That day will not come until the rebellion occurs. Contrary to the pretribulation teaching that the rapture could have even occurred during the lifetime of the original apostles, Scripture proves otherwise. It was prophesied that Paul would testify in Rome as he had done in Jerusalem (Acts 23:11). Peter was promised that he would live to an old age before being crucified, bringing glory to God (John 21:18-19).

Since it is evident from the second letter to the Thessalonians that the rapture will not occur until the rebellion, it is important to establish the scriptural definition of the term “rebellion.”

Deuteronomy 13:5

That prophet or dreamer must be put to death, because he preached rebellion against the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt and redeemed you from the land of slavery; he has tried to turn you from the way the LORD your God commanded you to follow. You must purge the evil from among you.

The Law of Moses states that a false prophet that leads people to worship other gods is to be put to death for the sin of “rebellion.” The sin of rebellion is not only the sin of a false prophet. Any person that worships other gods, especially by bowing down before an idol or offering up a sacrifice to an idol, is guilty of breaking God’s commandments.

Exodus 20:3-5a

“You shall have no other gods before me.”

“You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God…”

Revelation 13:13-14

And he performed great and miraculous signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven to earth in full view of men. Because of the signs he was given power to do on behalf of the first beast, he deceived the inhabitants of the earth. He ordered them to set up an image in honor of the beast who was wounded by the sword and yet lived.

The rebellion has to do with those who would be deceived (see – Thessalonians 2:2), by the “False Prophet” (the beast from out of the earth), and then would bow down before the image of the Antichrist.

Revelation 14: 8-10

A second angel followed and said, “Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great, which made all the nations drink the maddening wine of her adulteries.”

A third angel followed them and said in a loud voice: “If anyone worships the beast and his image and receives his mark on the forehead or on the hand, he, too, will drink of the wine of God’s fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. He will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb.

God’s fury is against those who take the mark of the beast and against the “Great Harlot.” The fury of God which is poured out by seven angels is described in detail in Revelation chapter sixteen. These final plagues which complete God’s wrath take place near the end of Daniel’s 70th week.

2).The man of lawlessness must be revealed.

Those who hold to the pretribulation rapture theory claim that although Israel will follow this false Messiah, true believers will know his identity before the Tribulation begins. But Paul, writing to the church and not unsaved Israel, explains when the Antichrist will be revealed:

He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.

Daniel 9:27

He will confirm a covenant with many for one ‘seven.’ In the middle of the ‘seven’ he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on a wing of the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.

Since Israel follows the “False Messiah” for the first half of Daniel’s 70th week, the revealing of the man of lawlessness does not occur until mid-tribulation.

The faithful believers at Thessalonica were assured that they had not missed the rapture. Their belief in a pretribulation rapture was misguided. The day of the Lord would not come until the Antichrist would establish himself in God’s temple and the False Prophet would lead the world in rebellion. The gathering of the elect to the Lord occurs at the sounding of the seventh trumpet. At that time, it will herald both the gathering of God’s people to himself and proclaim the terrible day of God’s judgment upon the earth.