June 17, 2007
MYSTERY OF INIQUITY
2 Thessalonians 2:7
“For the mystery of iniquity does already work: only he who now restrains will restrain, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked (one) be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming...” (2 Thess 2:7-8). Someone or something prevents the revelation of this “man of sin.”
These saints had been “shaken in mind” and “troubled” through bad teaching, that the “day of the Lord” was upon them. Paul cautioned them against deception, “for that day shall not come, unless there come a falling away (rebellion) first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God, or that is worshiped; so that he as God sits in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. Don’t you remember that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? And now ye know what restrains that he might be revealed in his time” (2 Thess. 2:2-6). They knew what or who restrained the revelation of this man of sin, but do we?
The identity of this restrainer has been thought to be the Roman Empire, the Holy Spirit, the Jewish State, and even the presence of the church on earth. Yet all these seem unsatisfying for this context.
As to the secret of iniquity, from Daniel 11 we learn much about a wicked one “at the time of the end.” He comes forth to do battle and “he shall come to his end, and none shall help him” (Dan. 11:45). Daniel comments about this one’s exploits and his end, but does not tell us how he meets that end! We believe Paul tells here that the Lord is the One Who destroys this “man of sin.”
Revelation 9:1-2 tells of an angel managing the bottomless pit which restrains some fearful creatures until God’s time for their release. “He opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke...and there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth...” When the ministry of the two witnesses was finished, “the beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit” makes “war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them.” Here is another fearful creature restrained by God in this abyss.
Considering that the “falling away” or rebellion must come first, it suggests the time when Israel will receive the Antichrist. The beast will ravage and do great harm until the Lord destroys him. (Rev. 11:7).
Ivan L. Burgener