Three Angels Messages Part 57

Thanks again for joining us as we continue to examine the vital messages of the Three Angels found in Revelation 14. We are still looking at the message of the third angel, which begins by stating, “Then a third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, ‘If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation.’” We have to be certain of the symbols of Scripture, including the “beast and his image.” We must study, understand and apply the content of these messages, for they represent a life and death issue!
The Lord said, “By the mouth of two or three witnesses, let all things be confirmed. However, as we’ve stated before, because understanding the identity of the beast power is so important, the Lord inspired the writers of His word to include no less than seven references to this entity. We began our examination in Revelation 13, because that is the closest in proximity to the messages of the three angels. But we see that there are three other portrayals in the Old Testament, and we will see that there are three additional ones in the New Testament.

We have already seen that Daniel 7’s horn power is a depiction of the papal power, as is the horn of Daniel 8. Remember that we’re thinking of the system, not the members of the Roman Catholic faith. It is the system of the papacy that Satan has used to subvert scriptural truth. In our last segment, we saw that the “king of the north,” in the last part of Daniel 11, is another portrayal of this system of apostasy.

We turn now to 3 additional pictures in the New Testament that reveal the Church of the Middle Ages, beginning with “man of sin” brought to view in II Thessalonians 2. Paul was an excellent student of the Scriptures and thoroughly conversant in the prophecies of the Old Testament. As he matured in his understanding of God’s plan, he realized that the coming of Jesus in glory could not take place until certain prophetic prerequisites were met.

When writing to the believers at Thessalonica who had lost sight of the grand climax of all things, at which time those who have been laid to rest in the graves will be restored to immortality, Paul encouraged them that one day Jesus will come back and we’ll see our loved ones again. However, it appears that some of his readers misinterpreted his message, or at least read more into it than Paul intended. They understood him to say that the coming of Jesus was in the immediate future, a meaning which Paul did not design.

The apostle was therefore compelled to write a second letter, in which he spelled out in greater detail the components of prophecy and the order of sequence laid out in Scripture. Jesus indeed will be coming back, but prior to that event, the apostle argued, certain prophetic prerequisites would have to be fulfilled. Other things had to happen first, before God’s people could expect His return.

Here’s what he wrote to them. “Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come. Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.” II Thessalonians 2:1-4. These are very meaningful verses!

Paul understood that before Jesus’ return there would be a “falling away,” an apostasy. As a matter of fact, our English word “apostasy” comes directly from the word Paul used in predicting this “falling away.” This would result in the emergence of one called the “man of sin,” or the “son of perdition.” Paul is specific to note that this entity would bear the garb of Christianity. It would be, as it were, a “wolf” in “sheep’s” clothing. It would sit “in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.”
Keep in mind that there is only one other time in Scripture that the term “son of perdition” is used, and that is when referring to Judas Iscariot. John 17:12. Who was he? He was one who walked with the Lord and purported to be His disciple, yet planted the betrayer’s kiss on the Savior’s cheek. Clearer language Paul could not have employed: this “man of sin” should be expected to put on the mantle of religion. Don’t look for a power that outwardly curses Christianity. This is an enterprise that claims to be Christian.

But it goes far beyond what Bible Christianity stands for, in that it presumes to take the very place of God. He “sits in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.” This is a power that presumes to claim the titles, authority and position of God. That this would be fulfilled in the historical papacy, which has laid claim to being above the written Word and the Ten Commandments, even to being equal with Christ and having authority to forgive sins, should not come as a great surprise to the one who has studied the prophecies of the Bible.
Paul lays out the timing sequence of the birth of this apostate power. “And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming.” Notice carefully that this power is coming after Paul’s day, although he detected the roots of it growing in his time. “The mystery of lawlessness is already at work,” although its full revelation is still in the future, according to Paul.

This is similar to what we will find John speaking about the Antichrist. Though when John wrote the complete emergence of the Antichrist was still in the future, the embryonic spirit of Antichrist was present in his day. “Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come.” I John 2:18.
Paul continues, “He who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed.” The clearly enunciated fact that this power emerges subsequent to Paul’s time period completely rules out the possibility that this power could have been pre-Christian. Just as we saw when studying the horn power of Daniel 7, which came up “among” the other ten, at the close of the power of civil Rome, there is no chance that Antiochus IV can be the “man of sin” described by the apostle.

Notice that there is a definite sequence in his coming. There is an entity which is in power “now,” as Paul writes, and then when he is “taken out of the way” the “man of sin” would be “revealed.” Mentally review the statue of Daniel 2. The chest of silver followed the head of gold. The legs of iron followed the waist of bronze. There was a definite sequence followed, which history confirmed. The chest of silver kingdom, Medo-Persia in its earth-reigning dominance, couldn’t be expected until the empire represented by the head of gold, Babylon, had completed its time.
It is as if you’re at the stoplight, waiting to proceed forward, and your young child is in the car with you. “When do we get to go, daddy?” the question is asked. You explain that right now the cars that are crossing the road in front of you have the green light, and then when that light becomes red for them, then the cars wishing to make left hand turns will get a green arrow. It will be that when you can expect that we will see the green light allowing us to continue. One thing must follow another. What Paul is saying is that there is definite structure to the prophetic time-line. The sequence must be followed. One thing in prophecy must follow another in its proper sequence. The blasphemous and destructive horn power, which turned out to be papal Rome, couldn’t step up to the stage until civil Rome had completed its performance.

Paul was completely familiar with the progression of the statue of metal and mud. He was totally conversant with the wild animals of Daniel 7’s vision. He well knew that the horn power of Daniel 7 came after the demise of the fourth beast. He knew that the 4th world empire, Rome, would have to decline before the horn power would emerge. In Paul’s day, Rome was at its height. He could foresee that it might be a while before her power would be diminished. Right now the presence of Rome was “retarding” the birth of the “man of sin.” But some day “he,” that is, the Roman Empire, would be “taken out of the way,” and at that time one could expect the revealing of the apostate power. Daniel 7:8 and II Thessalonians 2:7, 8 are in flawless harmony. They dovetail perfectly in their presentation of the anticipated timing of the coming of the power described as the “man of sin,” as occurring during the downfall of pagan Rome.

Next time, we will study further into Paul’s description of the “man of sin” in his letter to the Thessalonians. Just as God back then wanted His people to know the basics of His plan, so also today He wants us to know the fundamentals of His plan. The difference is that we have an abundance of light from which to gather truth! There is so much more information available today, confirmed by the historical accuracy of prophetic fulfillments, that can confirm the believer’s convictions of what God is going to do, and what He expects of us. Let us be diligent students of His Word, and ingest daily the “Bread of Life,” so that we can grow in our knowledge and our appreciation of Him!