purpose of signs: be encouraged and strengthened

2 Thessalonians 2-10The signs of God give Christians eternal encouragement and good hope, affirming to us the reality of God in our lives on earth as well as when the end of the world comes, just as the apostle Paul has comforted the model Christians in the Thessalonian church during persecutions, “stand firm and hold fast to the teachings; may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.

My personal note: Although the popular teaching is that Christians may be taken up (rapture) before the Great Tribulation, my understanding as led in the Spirit is that the teachings of Jesus and the apostles have clearly and repeatedly warned Christians of the urgency and importance of being equipped and prepared for persecutions and trials. Unequipped and unpreparedness for the end which signs are now increasingly evident, will be very costly to a Christian, his or her family and even a church. I perceive that the ‘man of lawlessness’ mentioned below in the verses today is a lifestyle prevalent in the world around which the apostles and prophets and the early churches have warned and departed from but have since been allowed back into the church and Christian homes, schools, workplace, and every aspect of lives. What kind of lifestyle we are focusing right now in this season (of eating and drinking)? Noah’s focus or the focus of the rest of the people in Noah’s Time? What are the good deed and word that Christians and churches should be doing and preaching today? Noah’s time was a time of plenty. People had plenty of material supplies and all sorts of physical pleasure. Prosperity and achievement. Commercial boom. Lots of wedding and birthday parties and other celebrations too. People had no lack of physical and emotional fulfillment. Fully occupied with their own business on earth. What was wrong?

God saw and said this: And the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not strive[a] with man forever, for he is indeed flesh; (Genesis 6:3) Then the Lord[b] saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.(6:5) The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. So God looked upon the earth, and indeed it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth.  And God said to Noah, “The end of all flesh has come before Me, for the earth is filled with violence through them; and behold, I will destroy them with the earth.(6:11-13)

What did Jesus say about His own second coming?

Matthew 24: 37-44

37 But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 38 For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, 39 and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 40 Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left. 42 Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour[f] your Lord is coming. 43 But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. 44 Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.

What did Noah do? He was six hundred years old when the flood came. He had lived six hundred years with his fellow men before he was taken away from them. He and his family to life. His fellowmen perished. This is how the Bible describes Noah: (Quoted in parts from Genesis 6) For six hundred years he and his family witnessed to his fellowmen by his lifestyle living before the living God. How did he do that? He knew God and walked with God. He was a man of peace (as opposed to the violence inside his fellowmen). He was pure in heart (seeing God). 

Matthew 5:8 [Full Chapter] Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. (Read the verses 5:1-12 at the end of this blog)

8 But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord. This is the account of Noah and his family. Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God. 22 Noah did everything just as God commanded him.

Hebrews 11:6-7

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith.

2 Thessalonians 2 New International Version (NIV) (Subheading and Boldness added)

The Man of Lawlessness (A lifestyle of lawlessness)

Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers and sisters, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by the teaching allegedly from us—whether by a prophecy or by word of mouth or by letter—asserting that the day of the Lord has already come. Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness[a] is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. He 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, proclaiming himself to be God.

Don’t you remember that when I was with you I used to tell you these things? And now you know what is holding him back, so that he may be revealed at the proper time. For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming. The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works. He will use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie, 10 and all the ways that wickedness 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 so that they will believe the lie 12 and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.

Stand Firm and Hold Fast To the Word of God

13 But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters loved by the Lord, because God chose you as firstfruits[b] to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. 14 He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

15 So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings[c] 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, 17 encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.

Footnotes:

  1. 2 Thessalonians 2:3 Some manuscripts sin
  2. 2 Thessalonians 2:13 Some manuscripts because from the beginning God chose you
  3. 2 Thessalonians 2:15 Or traditions

Matthew 5:1-12 New International Version (NIV)

Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them.

The Beatitudes

Jesus said:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
    for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
    for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
    for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
    for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
    for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
    for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.