TWO SIGNS THAT WILL PRECEDE THE RAPTURE:
1. THE APOSTASY
2. THE REVEALING OF THE MAN OF SIN, THE ANTICHRIST
The Thessalonian church was disturbed because false teachers had told them that the Day of the Lord had already begun. To correct that error, Paul revealed two specific events that MUST precede the Day of the Lord; first the Apostasy must come and second the Man of Sin must be revealed.
The essence of the Pre-wrath Rapture is that Jesus Christ will rapture His church immediately AFTER He cuts short the Great Tribulation and on the same day as the Day of the Lord begins, immediately BEFORE He unleashes His wrath during the Day of the Lord on the ungodly world. Until such time we are to be patient and persevere.
THE RETURN OF JESUS
1 Concerning the coming (Greek = Parousia. Many futurists teach that the coming of Jesus can take place at any moment and no prophesied event must take place before He returns. This view is known as “Pre-tribulationalism.” Nowhere do the scriptures state that the coming of Christ will take place before the tribulation.) of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers, 2not 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. (False Teachers were saying the Day of the Lord was already in process. To correct that error Paul revealed two specific events that must precede the Day of the Lord. First, the apostasy must come. And second, the man of sin must be revealed.)
TWO EVENTS PRECEDE THE DAY OF THE LORD
3 Don't let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day (the Day of the Lord) will not come until the rebellion occurs (Greek = The apostasy or the falling away from the faith. This is the first event. The falling away will involves both Israel and the Church. Concerning Israel, it will begin with the nation signing the 7 year covenant with Antichrist and will occur at the beginning of Daniel’s 70th. However, there is no reason to believe that the 7-year covenant of Daniel 9 will be as conspicuous as we might like.
Concerning the Church, The Bible indicates that the Church will fall asleep in the first half of the Week. We are warned against falling away from the faith as Antichrist will deceive many with signs and wonders followed by unprecedented persecution which he will inflict upon the saints of God. Paul specifically points to the middle of week as the most recognizable event signaling the end times.) and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. (This is the second event that precedes the Day of the Lord. It is the Abomination of Desolation, which is the height of all apostasy and occurs in the middle of the week, when the Antichrist set up an image of himself in the temple see Mt 24:15, Dan 11:42-45.) 4He (the Antichrist) 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 (This does not have to be a massive temple, (Gk = naos) merely a place for sacrifices see Dan 9:27 and Mt 24:15.), proclaiming himself to be God.)
IS THE RAPTURE IMMINENT?
(That depends… it is one thing to speak of imminence and mean that the Rapture could occur in our lifetime and specific signs precede Jesus’ Second Coming. It is quite another to define “imminent” as meaning Christ could return at ANY moment, and there are no signs that need to be fulfilled before He returns.)
5Don't you remember that when I was with you I used to tell you these things? 6And now you know what is holding him (Antichrist) back (Something or someone is restraining the Antichrist. Some have proposed the church, but the church is feminine, the restrainer is masculine in v. 7. Can’t be the H.S., he will still be active on the earth after Antichrist begins his reign. Mt 10 confirms that H.S. is active and will give us the very words we should say! Not government, Antichrist will control the government of the world. It may be Michael the Archangel. See Dan 10:12-14, 21, 12:1. He was the restrainer of evil in the O.T. Apparently, Michael will arise or stand aside and cease from his normal ministry of protecting Israel when Antichrist proclaims himself God, thus permitting the G.T. to occur.), so that he may be revealed at the proper time. 7For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work (the spirit of Antichrist was already at work in Paul’s day.); but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he (Michael) is taken out of the way. (Michael will continue to restrain evil until Antichrist is revealed and he is taken out of the way. At that point, Michael will desist from hindering and Satan will pour out his unrestrained wrath upon the nation Israel. The apostle Paul clearly had Daniel 12:1 in mind when he wrote this verse.) 8And then the lawless one (Antichrist) will be revealed (When he proclaims himself to be God in the temple on Mt. Moriah and will rise to power for 3 ½ years.), whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming. 9The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, (Satan will perpetuate a massive deception upon mankind.) 10and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.
11 For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion (God himself will send a massive deception. This doesn’t sound like a massive revival occurring after the Antichrist is revealed. This doesn’t sound like the 144,000 are converting the world.) so that they will believe the lie (The lie is that Antichrist is God, the Protector and Deliverer of Israel! The Lie is that man is God – humanism.) 12and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.
13 But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. 14He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. 15So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.
16 May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, 17encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.