by Thomas Bass | Les Feldick
Remember in our last program we were describing the attribute or personality of this man that’s going to come on the scene to rule the world during the Tribulation. Also, we had come out of Daniel and gone into the New Testament to see some of those descriptions there. So let’s begin by turning to II Thessalonians Chapter 2. I’ve stressed over the last several months that Paul never writes with regard to prophecy per se. Paul writes concerning the Church. But you see, as the Church bumps right up against the door of the fulfilling again of prophecy, Paul does make some statements here in II Thessalonians Chapter 2 concerning this Man of Sin. Consequently, I want to look at these just to get another point of view about this man who is going to come on the scene:
II Thessalonians 2:1
“Now we beseech you (Paul writes to the Thessalonians who are Gentiles in northern Greece), brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him.”
Do you see the language? That’s not the Second Coming, because there is not going to be a gathering unto Him at the Second Coming. He’s going to come to… but here there is a gathering unto. There is a difference in language. Someday, down the road, we’re going to show the difference in all the Scripture verses – how that the Second Coming is totally different language than Christ’s coming for the Church. And we’ll be able to show that so clearly. Continuing on into verse 2, Paul writes to the Thessalonian believers, that evidently thought they had missed the Out-Calling, or the Rapture, and thought they were in the Tribulation. Remember, they were under intense persecution.
So Paul writes this little letter to calm their fears, and let them know that they hadn’t missed it. I think every believer who understands my teaching of the Rapture of the Church may have had this experience: you come home from somewhere and unknown to you the whole family is gone. My wife loves to go fishing, and sometimes when I come in she’s gone. When there’s nobody around, you suddenly realize that the loved ones you thought should be there are gone. What’s that first thought that may hit us? The Lord has taken them and I’ve missed it. We all have those thoughts occasionally. We should all be aware of this. “Is it possible, have I missed it?” That’s what the Thessalonians thought. They thought because of the pressures they were now under, the Lord had come, the Tribulation had come in and they’d had it. This is the reason for this condolence letter. And he says:
II Thessalonians 2:2
“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.”
The day of the Lord, the day of Jehovah, the “day of God;” what is that? Well that’s the Tribulation, when God’s judgment is going to come on the scene for those seven years. So he says the day of Christ is at hand, or has happened. Now verse 3. Here is a verse that I think it was so unfortunate the King James translators were not perfect (no translation is). I’ve always had such high respect for the accuracy of the King James Version, but here is one where I think they made a glaring mistake, and it has caused a lot of confusion among Christendom and that is on the word “apostasia.”
II Thessalonians 2:3
“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;”
“Let no man deceive you by any means; for that day,“ that is the coming in of the Tribulation, the day of God, “that day shall not come except there come,…“ Now most translations have got it `a falling away.’ I think it’s so unfortunate, and I changed the teaching of it when the Amplified New Testament came out. I don’t remember when that was, but the Amplified New Testament came out in about the middle 70’s. The Amplified, for those of you who are not acquainted with it, is a good study Bible. They have simply taken the Greek of the New Testament, and it may take four or five English words to enlarge on a Greek word. Now it doesn’t make nice reading. It’s just word after word after word, all describing the original. But if you take the time, and understand that sometimes it does take four or five English words to understand one Greek word, then you’ll get the picture.
Here is one of them where in their footnote they use `the departure’ for the word `apostasia,’ instead of “a falling away.” Now read it in that light. “For that day shall not come,…” In other words, the introduction of the Anti-christ, “that day shall not come, except there come a departure first.” Now it’s interesting that in all of the early translations of the Bible, beginning with Tyndale, and all the way up through the 1500’s, almost every translation, including the Tyndale and the Geneva, and several others, all translated that word, `the departure.’
Dr. Kenneth Wuest, who is probably the most respected Greek scholar on the scene today is at Moody Bible Institute, and in his book, Prophetic Light in the Present Darkness, he also makes that same delineation of this word, that is better translated `the departure,’ because the same Greek word translated in our King James, `falling away,’ is translated eight times in our New Testament, as `depart;’ either of a person departing from another person to go away, or of a person departing from one place to another. You see, that makes all the difference in the world in this text. That the Tribulation cannot begin until there is the departure. And I think we are going to live to see the day. I think we are getting closer and closer. We’re suddenly going to be gone from this place. And so he says, and we’re going to go on now, “And that man of sin,…” See, here is another one of the titles or the descriptions of this Anti-christ. “…and except there come a departure and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition.“
I’m going to throw this in casually because I don’t get dogmatic on some of these things, but if you want to make a Bible study of something that gets rather intriguing, what other human being in Scripture is referred to as the Son of Perdition? Judas! Judas Iscariot was called the Son of Perdition. Like I say, you can do this on your own. But you see, Judas Iscariot was spoken of as having gone to his own place. The Book of Revelation speaks of the Anti-christ as the Son of Perdition, who also came from his own place.
So there are many Scriptural analogies that may suggest we will have one instance of a reincarnation. I don’t even like to use the word because it’s coming in so fast in the oriental religions and so forth. And there’s certainly no other instance of it in all of Scripture. But I think it is a possibility that Judas Iscariot could come back reincarnated. Remember, Christ was not reincarnated, He was incarnate. But a reincarnation could be someone who has lived and now is alive again. Now, it’s possible, and that’s all I can say, it’s possible that the Anti-christ could be a reincarnated Judas Iscariot. And the more I think about it, the more I think indeed it is possible. And as I said last lesson, I think the Anti-christ will be an apostate Jew, rather than an apostate from Christianity. But whatever, we know he’s going to be a demonic individual. But as we saw in the last lesson, he’s going to have all of these pleasant (on the surface) attributes. He’s going to be a charismatic individual. He’s going to be able to sway people’s opinions. He’s going to be able to lie and get away with it. He’s going to promise peace and prosperity, and that’s what the world is looking for.
The world will vote their pocketbook every chance they get and he’s going to take advantage of that. He’s going to promise world peace and prosperity. Consequently, they’re going to fall for it hook, line, and sinker. I have a statement that was printed in Time Magazine in 1957, by a famous World War II Belgian General who became a diplomat, by the name of Paul Henry Spock. This is what he said, back in 1957, as one of the top leaders in Europe at that time. “We need no commission, we have already too many. What we need is a man who is great enough to be able to keep all the people in subjection to himself and to lift us out of the economic bog into which we threaten to sink. Send us such a man. Be he a god or a devil. We will accept him.” That was spoken by a European leader in 1957. Here we are that much later and the world is that much more ready for such a man. Let’s go back to the text here where Paul is writing concerning this world ruler that’s going to come on the scene. Now, verse 4:
II Thessalonians 2:4
“Who opposeth and exalteth himself…(it’s just exactly what Daniel said; he’s going to worship the god of forces, he’s going to exalt himself as God. Paul is right in line with that here. Beginning the verse again, he says,)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 Temple will be rebuilt and on the scene in Jerusalem. When we go back to Daniel, we’re going to see how we know the Temple is going to be rebuilt. It has to be! Because Israel is going to enjoy Temple worship up until the mid-point, when this man will go into the Temple as Paul depicts it here, will defile it, will do some abominable thing, probably as Antiochus The Great did. He offered a hog, a sow, upon the altar there in Jerusalem, and I’m sure the Anti-christ will do something just as bad. Reading on in verse 5:
II Thessalonians 2:5
“Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?”
So Paul says you haven’t missed it. The Tribulation hasn’t come in because you are still here. And the Tribulation can’t begin until there is the departure. We won’t go any further here in Thessalonians now; we’ll come back at a later date. Now go to the little letter of 1 John. We have all these references of this Man of Sin, this vile person, a prince that shall come and so forth. But I’m sure this is the only place in our Bible where he is called what we normally call him, and that is the Anti-christ. And here it is in I John Chapter 2:
I John 2:18a
“Little children (now you see how all these writers of Scripture are just assuming that all this would happen, one thing right after the other. Remember when I had the timeline up there on the board, that after the Crucifixion there would be a little segment, and then would come the Tribulation, and then would come the return of Christ, with no hint of 2000 years of Church Age. Well, John writes in that same light. He has no idea of this 2000 year interval in here. And so he says), it is the last time: as ye have heard that anti-christ shall come,…”
As far as I know, that’s the clearest term concerning this man, as being the Anti-christ. John also speaks of many other anti-christs; others who will oppose the Word of God. But there is only one real Anti-christ. Now, we go into the Book of Revelation, and we get a further description in Chapter 13. If the Lord tarries and we stay on television, there will come a day when we will study the Book of Revelation verse by verse. I know in my weekly classes it has always prompted our largest attendance. And the most excited response. But for now we are just going to take a glimpse of it because we want to keep our flow through the Scriptures. I’m getting anxious now to get out of the Old Testament and get into the New Testament. We are going to start in Matthew soon. But now Revelation 13. John in his vision says:
“And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea,…”
Now, we have to stop and explain. Here is another Book of Prophecy written in symbolism. The beast here in Revelation is the same beast of Daniel. Number one, it’s the Roman Empire. But this man Anti-christ, since he’s going to rule it, is also identified as the beast. The word beast has a two-fold meaning. It can mean the original Roman Empire, or the revived one. But it’s also the Man of Sin, the Anti-christ who is going to rule this final world system. Now the imagery here again is the “sea.” Out of the sea he sees this beast come. The average reader will imagine a dragon or some kind of sea monster, coming up out of the middle of the ocean. That’s not what is indicated. It’s a symbolic statement; that out of the sea of humanity, out of the masses of nations, there is going to come this final empire. And we are seeing it happen right before our eyes, with the European community. It’s a restoration of the very same geographical area of the ancient Roman Empire.
I always like to remind my classes that you have to realize that from the demise of the ancient Roman Empire between 300-400 A.D. and the rising now of this revived Roman Empire, even though it’s 1900 plus years, to us that’s a long time. But in the mind of God, what is it? A blink of the eye. As far as He is concerned, what ended in 350 A.D. and is now coming about in the 1990’s, it’s as if there is no interval in between. It has just been pushed right up back to back. And so this is what you must keep in mind when studying the Book of Revelation. Read on, as this great empire, as well as this great individual rises up out of the masses of humanity:
“…having seven heads and ten horns (like we saw in the Book of Daniel, when Medes and Persians were depicted as the ram with two horns. What were the horns? Well, the two individual kings. Now when this empire comes on the scene, there is going to be seven distinct heads of state. But there are going to be ten crowns. You are going to have ten distinct nations, three of whom will not be very powerful, or large enough to have their own heads of state. But you will have ten distinct leaders.), and upon his heads the name of blasphemy.”
So who is heading up this empire? Satan is. It’s a satanic consortium of politicians and so forth. Now when I say satanic, remember Satan isn’t just a promoter of skid row. Satan doesn’t just promote the vile aspect of life. Satan can promote the greatest technology, he can promote the most beautiful things on earth, as long as it’s for his own end. And so, even though this great world system comes on the scene, and just because I say it’s satanic doesn’t mean that it’s intrinsically evil from its outward appearance, but you can bet the farm that the inward part of it will be corrupt to the core. And that’s why I said when he comes on the scene, how is he going to achieve his end? By lying, by deception, by flattery, and by his charismatic personality. He’s going to get people to fall at his feet. But remember he’s corrupt. Now let’s read on:
“And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat, and great authority.”
“And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard,…“ You always have to take time, and think back to Daniel Chapter 2. Remember the Babylonian Empire was called the head of gold? The Medes and Persian Empire was the chest of silver. The Greek Empire was the belly of brass. The Roman Empire was legs of iron. Then in Chapter 7, Daniel saw those same empires as wild beasts. He saw Babylon as a lion. He saw the Medes and Persians as the bear. And he saw the Greek Empire as the leopard. And the fourth empire was a beast beyond description. Daniel saw them from a prophetic view from start to finish. Coming down, John sees them now as looking back. Notice they are in reverse order.. “and the dragon(Satan)gave him his power, and his seat(or throne), and his authority.“ Do you see how plain that is? This man is going to come on the scene, satanically driven, and he’s going to receive his power, talents and ability directly from Satan himself. He’s going to take over these ten nations that I’m convinced will be the European Community. And out of that ten-nation power he will come to the top and will become the great world leader.
“And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death (now again there is a lot of controversy as to, “Will the Anti-christ himself be assassinated and be raised back to life?” I do not think so, although that would make good news. I personally think that the wounding to death here is the ancient Roman Empire. Everyone historically feels that the Roman Empire is dead and gone. But here it is coming back just as if nothing has happened.); and his deadly wound was healed (now watch those next 3 or 4 words): and all the world (not just Europe, not just the Mediterranean, but the whole world.)wondered after the beast.”
“And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying (do you see now why we are seeing such an increase in Satan worship? We’re seeing an increase in the Oriental Religions, which are tied of course to the Occult. They are all getting ready when this man comes on the scene, and takes over and the world is going to be ready to fall at his feet, and they will worship him as well as the satanic power that is behind him. Reading on now, they will ask the question), `Who is like unto the beast (who’s like him? He’s one in millions.)who is able to make war with him?’”
“And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies;…”
He is going to be Anti-God, he is the Anti-christ, and he’s going to have tremendous power because of the satanic power behind him. Don’t ever underestimate Satan. Do you remember when Jesus was out there in the temptations. It’s in Matthew Chapter 4, and one of the temptations was, as Satan took Him up to the mountain top in this particular case, he showed Jesus what? All the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them. And what did Satan have the nerve to say to Jesus? “Fall down and worship me and I’ll give them to you.” I’ve always maintained they’re his to give. And now here we see him really coming to the place where he thinks he’s got the world under his thumb. And they’re all beginning to worship him, but God limits him. And what is the next limit? Forty-two months. That is 3 1/2 years.
So out of the seven years remember the first 3 1/2 he’s going to be making his points, he’s going to be coming on the scene, but he won’t attain this position as absolute world controller until the middle of the Tribulation. That’s when he will move into the Temple in Jerusalem, and that’s when he will turn on the Jew. Then, as we will see in the next few programs, at the mid-point of the Tribulation, Satan is cast out of heaven. So I always put it this way. That last 3 1/2 years is not just going to be the wrath of God poured out, but it’s going to be a combined wrath. The wrath of Satan, the Scripture says, knowing that he has only a short time left, 3 1/2 years. The wrath of God because he has promised he would pour out his wrath on Christ-rejecting mankind, and so that last forty-two months are like Jesus said in Matthew 24, a time of trouble, the like to which the world has never seen or ever will. And it’s going to be such that we cannot even comprehend.