Old Testament: Jeremiah 23:21-25:38
Jeremiah 23:21-25:38 Babbling On And On
Chap.23: 21 – 40 God is a God who is near not one who is far off (v. 23). Have you ever felt like God was far away? Well, he wasn’t.
There is another rebuke for the false prophets in v. 25-40. In contrast to their false message of peace, God’s word is wheat that nourishes, fire that burns away dross and a hammer that hits home (v. 28-29).
Chap. 24 This prophecy occurred after Jeconiah was deported to Babylon. The ones who went with Jeconiah and had heeded Jeremiah’s warning were promised safekeeping (cf. Jer. 21:9). The ones who remained or went to Egypt (vv. 28-30; 43:4-7) fared worse.
Chap. 25 Jeremiah is not presented in chronological order so this chapter actually precedes the last chapter in time (McGee). It concerns the times of Kings Jehoiachin and Zedekiah. Half the chapter is an oracle against the Jews (vv. 1 – 11) and the other half is an oracle against the Gentiles and Babylon (v. 12-38). Jeremiah was called in 626 B.C. (Wiersbe) and now is about the mid-point of his prophetic career.
Jehoiachin was deported in 597 B.C. just a few years after Jeremiah gave this prophecy. Verses 2-7 speak of a seventy year captivity for Judah. The reason for the seventy year captivity was that Judah had failed to follow God’s law regarding the resting of the land every seven years (cf. Lev. 25:3-5; 26:34-35; 2 Chr. 36:20-21). The Sabbath year had been ignored for about 490 years resulting in a 70 year punishment for Judah and a respite of seventy years for the land. God was keeping his Word (Lev. 26:34, “while you are in your enemies’ land; then the land will rest and enjoy its sabbaths”).
After this period of seventy years, the people would be allowed to return (v. 12) and Babylon would be punished. Chapters 50-51 were probably written about the same time as chapter 25 and describe the destruction of Babylon that God references in vv. 12-38).
New Testament: 2 Thessalonians 2:1-17
2 Thessalonians 2:1-17 Fall Season
Paul was asked to address a question about the Second Coming (v. 1). It apparently arose because someone started a rumor that there had been a prophecy or epistle from Paul announcing that the “Day of the Lord” had come (v.2). The “Day of the Lord” was an Old Testament allusion to the time of punishment preceding the Lord’s coming. Paul told them not to worry about it. They were afraid that God’s judgments had to come on the earth and they didn’t understand how that could happen since the Church was supposed to be gone by the time the disasters had begun (cf. 1 Thes. 1:10; 5:9). They weren’t able to distinguish their persecutions from the punishments that were to occur during the “Day of the Lord.”
Fortunately, Paul cleared this all up for them which enlightens us today as to the time of the end. Paul says that things will occur in this order:
1) The “apostasy” or (literally) the “falling away” must occur first (v. 3) and “man of lawlessness” is unveiled
2) whoever is “restraining” lawlessness will be moved out of the way (v. 7)
3) then the Lord will appear and wipe out the “lawless one” (v. 8)
None of these things had happened so the Thessalonians didn’t need to be concerned. They could relax as far as persecuted people could relax.
“Apostasy” (v. 3) means “falling away” and can refer to either or both of the apostasy of the church or the Rapture of the church. If all the true believers have been “air-lifted” in the Rapture, then, of course, the remaining “church” will be an “apostatized” or a bogus church. “Falling away” could also refer to the Rapture of the church. According to McGee, the word apostasia or apostasy can also mean, “departure or removal from.” He argues that it not only refers to the church on earth apostatizing but has connotations of the real Church being Raptured. Whether this is true or not, the true Church will be gone (cf. 1 Thess. 4:15-17) or else the remaining church would not be completely dead.
The “man of lawless” is the Antichrist (v. 3). He will put himself in the place of God (v. 4) and take a seat in the Temple. Paul said “lawlessness” was already at work but was being “restrained” by the Holy Spirit (v. “He,” v. 7). After the Holy Spirit ceases His work of “restraining” lawlessness then the Antichrist will be “revealed” (v. 8a) though Christ will annihilate him when He returns (v. 8b).
Antichrist will perform “signs and wonders” “with all power,” deluding unbelievers who refused the light that had been given them (v. 10). No one should trust “signs and wonders” or miracles today unless they jibe with the Word of God. Even Peter didn’t favorably compare his experience at Christ’s transfiguration with the objective value of the Word (cf. 2Pet. 1: 16 -19). He considered the Word to be “more sure” (v. 19). God will cause unbelievers during the Tribulation time to be even more deluded (v. 11) so that they will be even more prone to believe falsehoods. The result will be that they will be judged for their wicked behavior (v. 12).
God made sure the Thessalonians would start on a path toward holiness by being saved and then growing through the Spirit in truth (vv. 13 – 14). The only way they could remain on that path was by holding to the foundational doctrine taught by Paul (v. 15).
Paul closes by asking that God comfort the Thessalonians in their persecution and encourage them to keep doing good (v. 16).