The Impending Conflict

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(2 Thessalonians 2, Revelation 13, Genesis 1)
Lesson Number: 

Lesson 11

The Impending Conflict

(2 Thessalonians 2, Revelation 13, Genesis 1)

Copr. 2024, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. If you normally receive this lesson by e-mail, but it is lost one week, you can find it by clicking on this link: Pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit as you study.

Introduction: Revelation is filled with pictures of frightening beasts and symbols conveying messages about the future. Many are debated over their meaning and their timing. Those, however, are not the only prophecies found in the New Testament. One prophecy not primarily found in Revelation is clear and difficult to dispute. It is our focus this week. It also fits into the views of the three Abrahamic religions: Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. This prophecy tells us about the impending conflict that takes place before the Second Coming of Jesus. Let’s plunge into our study of the Bible and learn more!

  1. The Warning
    1. Read 2 Thessalonians 2:1. What is the subject matter of the discussion that follows? (Jesus’ Second Coming and His followers going to heaven. When teaching lawyers to argue in court, we tell them to first set out a “roadmap.” Let the court know what you are going to be arguing. Verse 1 is a roadmap.)
    2. Read 2 Thessalonians 2:1-3. What is the concern about Jesus’ Second Coming? (That people will try to deceive Jesus’ followers.)
      1. What should we look for to prevent being deceived? (A rebellion will come first.)
      2. Wait, we have had rebellions against God from the time Cain killed Abel. How does this help us? (Let’s keep reading.)
    3. Read 2 Thessalonians 2:4. What are the important points of this rebellion that set it apart from all others? (This rebel proclaims that he is God, and he takes his seat “in the temple of God.”)
      1. Now let’s add the context. What does the roadmap tell us about the context? (This prophecy is about faking the Second Coming of Jesus.)
    4. Read Matthew 24:23-27. What does Jesus warn will happen before His Second Coming? (False christs performing great signs and wonders will come.)
      1. What is one definitive way to tell the fake Second Coming from the real? (Everyone will see it. It will be like lightning from the east to the west. See also Revelation 1:7 - “every eye will see Him.”)
    5. Read 2 Thessalonians 2:9-10. Who powers the Anti-Christ? (Satan.)
      1. How convincing is the proof used by this rebel faker? (Powerful signs and wonders support his claim.)
    6. Read 2 Thessalonians 2:8. What does this tell us about the timing of the reign of the Anti-Christ? (That it is only Jesus’ Second Coming that kills him. The two events seem closely timed.)
    7. Did you know that a belief in a false messiah is shared by Muslims? (“The Deceiver” (al-Dejjal) is a false messianic figure in Islamic teaching about end times. According to the teaching, the Deceiver will reign for a limited period of time before being destroyed by the Mahdi or Jesus. See Britannica listing for al-Dajjal.)
      1. Does Judaism have a similar belief? (Absolutely! Think about it. They reject Jesus as the Messiah, and thus they continue to look for the coming of the true Messiah.)
    8. What do you think about the fact that all three Abrahamic religions, which represent an overwhelming majority of all world religious belief, look forward to coming messiah figure?
  2. The Issue
    1. Re-read 2 Thessalonians 2:4. Aside from getting the identification right, what is the central issue in resisting the rebel Anti-Christ who fakes Jesus’ Second Coming? (Worship. He exalts himself over all others who claim to be entitled to worship. He says that he is God.)
    2. Read Revelation 4:11. This pictures a scene in heaven in the throne room. What is the reason given for worshiping Jesus? (He is our Creator. He powers the creation.)
    3. Read Revelation 14:7. What is the reason why the First of the Three Angels says that we should worship God? (He is the Creator.)
    4. Revelation 13 tells us about beasts and a dragon. Read Revelation 13:4 and Revelation 13:11-14. What is at issue with the dragon and the beasts? (Worship. Note the references to great signs being used to deceive.)
    5. Years ago, I decided to do a systematic search of the Bible to see what God said about His claim to be worshiped. I found at least 100 Bible texts in which His claim to worship was that He is the Creator! If you were attempting to defeat God and claim the worship due to Him, what would you do? (Undermine His claim as the Creator.)
  3. The Issue Today
    1. Several Bible commentaries that I frequently use are very old. Barnes’ Notes were written in the 1830s. Adam Clarke’s Commentaries were published from 1810-26. The Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary was published in 1871. These commentaries, among others, lead me to believe that two hundred years ago there was general agreement among the leading Protestant Bible scholars that one of the heads of the beast of Revelation 13, whose mortal wound was healed, is the Catholic Church. My Church still teaches that and so do other modern Protestants. My Church also teaches the “Earth Beast” of Revelation 13:11 is the United States. I understand the arguments and generally believe them to be sound. However:
      1. The argument about the Catholic Church is contradicted by the reality of today. The Catholic Church, which publicly defends important values (such as protecting the pre-born), is taking a beating in the media. Its members who hold political power in the United States are either apostates (Congress and the Executive branches) or firm supporters of religious liberty (Supreme Court).
      2. The argument about the United States forcing worship world-wide is belied by the fact that it seems to have no influence in the Islamic world to say nothing about the rise of the Chinese. Perhaps the false worship is the pernicious evil that the U.S. spreads throughout the world through its entertainment media. That media, however, seems to hate the Catholic Church.
      3. Something that is happening right now constitutes a direct attack on God’s claim as our Creator. Let’s explore current events that directly challenge God’s claim to be our Creator God and thus worthy of our worship.
    2. Read Genesis 1:1-5. The rest of the chapter follows this general pattern. What are the important details? (God created everything from what was “formless and empty.” God spoke the creation into existence. Each element happened upon command.)
      1. Is this claim currently under attack? (It is under almost universal attack based on Darwin’s theory of incremental evolution.)
    3. Read Genesis 1:26-28. What does this reveal about humans? (We are made in the image of God. We were intended to rule over the creation. We were made either male or female with the purpose of reproducing.)
      1. Is this claim currently under attack? (We are currently taught that there are many genders, sex is not binary. We are assured that same-sex marriages, which cannot reproduce, are of equal dignity to God’s creation pattern.)
      2. What about the claim that humans rule the creation? (We are warned that humans are a danger to the created world and humans need to be reduced in number. We are told that we need to conform to the needs of the environment which rules over us.)
    4. Read Genesis 2:1-3 and Exodus 20:8-11. What do these texts say is the reason to worship on the seventh-day? (It is a memorial to God creating “the heavens and the earth.”)
      1. Is this claim currently under attack? (Almost all the Christian world worships on Sunday - the first day of the week.)
    5. Friend, Martin Luther wrote: “If I profess with loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except that little point which the world and the Devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ.” I will see how the future fulfillment of Revelation 13 unfolds, but right now I’m with Martin Luther. We are worthless if we do not oppose Satan’s current point of attack. Will you be a faithful soldier in the conflict that is going on right now?
  4. Next week: Earth’s Closing Events.