Sunday, May 7, 2017

Evil Restrained

Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? 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.                            2 Thessalonians 2:5-8  NKJV

Do we live in a truly evil world?  I am sure that most of us would look at the world we live in and describe it as inherently good, with some evil in one form or another always present for the forces of good to do battle against.  Yet those who would do evil are in the minority and for the most part severely outnumbered by a peace-loving majority.  While not all would agree totally with that position, the Word of God tells us in no uncertain terms that a time is coming when evil will no longer be held in check, and this world will descend into chaos as everyone turns against each other and lawlessness is the order of the day.  That day comes when the restrainer, the Holy Spirit, is removed from the earth along with the Church at the time of our deliverance at the rapture.

Woe is me!  For I am like those who gather summer fruits, Like those who glean vintage grapes; There is no cluster to eat Of the first-ripe fruit which my soul desires. The faithful man has perished from the earth, And there is no one upright among men. They all lie in wait for blood; Every man hunts his brother with a net.           Micah 7:1-2  NKJV

I believe the Bible makes it clear that the rapture of the Church could happen at any time.  That does not mean, however, that there might not be a clue in the Word as to the season in which it might occur.  Many believe that this passage from Micah suggests that at the time of the first ripe grape harvest in Israel, usually at the beginning of summer, all of the faithful men of the earth have suddenly disappeared by virtue of the rapture of the Church.  Considering that the Holy Spirit was given to the Church to indwell her on the first Pentecost, it follows that the Spirit is taken at the same time.

If we ask ourselves the question just what this world would look like when the restrainer, the Holy Spirit, is removed from the earth at the rapture, I believe this passage from Micah tells us exactly what will happen.  Most of us are familiar with the observation of the philosopher Edmund Burke when he said “all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing”.  Well, what happens when, according to this passage, there are no faithful men?  Every man is against his own brother, and evil is rampant on the earth.  Talk about all that is necessary to create the “perfect storm” of evil, God simply removes His Church along with the Holy Spirit and there is nothing left to fight against Satan and his forces.

Since history has shown that Satan’s priority is the destruction of Israel, what do you think he tries to do first?  Is it possible this passage from Micah refers to the rapture of the Church?  I think it certainly may well do that, considering the description it gives as to what the world looks like with the absence of the faithful.  Without the Holy Spirit present on earth in the body of the true Church, the evil that is presently being “restrained” will manifest itself in a fury this world has never seen, most assuredly in the direction of the nation of Israel. This evil, however, will not appear out of nowhere and I believe what we are witnessing today is somewhat like the filling up of a lake behind a dam until the point is reached where the dam will fail and a flood consume all that is before it.

Although some might disagree, there is considerable scholarship which supports the premise that the future tribulation period begins on the Jewish holiday of the Feast of Trumpets.  Those who hold the pre-tribulational position of the rapture of the Church look to this day as the time of our deliverance, and this has been taught for many years.  Yet although this would obviously be the point in time where the Church would by necessity have to be taken, there are many who have suggested over the years that there is no reason that there couldn’t be a period of time between the rapture and the beginning of the seven years of tribulation.

I believe a close study of the events that the Bible tells us lead up to the “peace” that the coming man of sin brokers between Israel and its enemies supports the idea that there are some very serious conflicts which take place first.  The majority of scholars I have studied believe that the attempted invasion of Israel outlined in Ezekiel 38, 39 and the deliverance by the direct intervention of God is the event which allows this peace agreement, and the tribulation, to begin.  Considering this, my question for years has been, “what is holding back Israel’s enemies right now”?  If your answer is the restrainer, then it follows He has to be removed before this attack can go forward.

If we accept that there might be a period of time between the rapture and the beginning of the tribulation, it is reasonable to consider the possibility of a summer rapture when the most likely day for an attack of this nature is on Israel’s national day of mourning.  That day is Tisha B’ Av, or the ninth of Av on the Jewish calendar.  This day normally occurs in the middle of the summer and this year it will begin at sunset on the evening of August 1st.  This day is unique in Israel as the day that many national tragedies have occurred throughout their history.  It seems reasonable considering this history that an attack of the type revealed in prophecy which is still to come would most likely occur on this date.

While we might look at the world right now and consider much to be truly evil, it holds no candle to what it will look like when the Church, along with the Holy Spirit is removed at the rapture.  The restrainer is right now holding back Satan’s full fury and the evil that he has planned for this world, but according to the Word of God it won’t last forever.  The Church will be taken and be spared from having to endure the evil which will come upon mankind and the most important question which needs to be asked is are you part of the body of believers which make up the Church?   

If not, you can do that right now and receive the guarantee that you will spend eternity with the Father in Heaven, and escape the evil which is to come.  Simply pray a prayer like this; Dear Lord Jesus, I know I am a sinner and I believe You died for my sins. Right now, I turn from my sins and open the door of my heart and life. I confess You as my personal Lord and Savior. Thank You for saving me. Amen.

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