Last week I showed the consistency of Paul's teaching of the Feast of Trumpets throughout the scripture, as well as some oral history of the Jewish faith which contributes to our understanding of the Feast of Trumpets.
After telling the Thessalonians twice in his first letter we are to be delivered from the wrath to come by the trumpet call from heaven, and to the world Jesus would come for His disciples like a thief in the night, but TO US He would not come as a thief, they wanted more detail. Paul provided that detail in II Thessalonians.
Paul continues his teaching about the Feast of Trumpets
"But relative to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together with Him, we beg you brethren, not to allow your minds to be quickly unsettled or disturbed or kept excited or alarmed, whether by some pretended revelation by the Spirit or by letter...to the effect that the day of Christ has arrived.
Let no one deceive you, for that day won't come except there come the "falling away" (Greek; apostia) first, and then the man of sin will be revealed, the son of doom (perdition), who exalts himself so proudly and insolently against and over all that is called God and worshiped, even to the point of taking his seat in the temple of God and proclaiming himself that he is God.
Don't you remember when I was with you I told you these things? So now you know what withholds and restrains him from being revealed, so that he may be revealed at his appointed time. For the mystery of iniquity is already at work, until He who restrains him is taken out of the way, and then he will be revealed."
II Thessalonians 2:1-7
What is the falling away?
Paul is building on his first letter, where he said the archangel would sound the trump (shofar) and the dead in Christ would rise and those alive would also join them with the Lord in the air. With that understanding he says anti-Christ can't be revealed until there is a 'falling away' first.
Paul used the word 'apostia', which does in fact mean falling away. But not falling away from the faith. In ancient times this word was used to describe the visual effect of ships leaving port and 'falling away' out of view as they passed over the horizon. It came to mean any departure, a falling away from view as a traveler walked, rode, or sailed away out of sight. (The Amplified Bible notes this meaning in the margin, though not with full historical usage explained).
So Paul is saying there is a 'departure', a 'falling away from view' that must take place before anti-Christ can be revealed.
Now read it as they would have understood it in Paul's time, putting what he said to Corinth and I & II Thessalonians together, and you will see the consistency of thought in what he taught the churches:
"Behold! I show you a mystery. We will not all die, but we will all be changed. In a moment, in the blinking of an eye, at the Last Trump; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead in Christ will rise first, and we who are alive will be changed...
...and we wait for His Son from heaven, who has delivered us from the wrath to come...For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the Trump of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air; so shall we ever be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words...
Now brothers and sisters, we beg you by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, that you not be shaken in mind nor troubled as if the day is at hand...the day will not come until the departure comes first, and then the man of sin will be revealed....now you know what is restraining him from being revealed. Then, when he is taken out of the way, the man of sin will be revealed." (I Corinthians 15:51, I Thessalonians 4:16-18, II Thessalonians 2:1-7)
Doesn't that make sense? The question is, what or who is the "He/he" who is removed?
The Holy Spirit has always been on earth
Some would say the Holy Spirit, but that isn't correct because the Holy Spirit is the agent of salvation and it is by the Holy Spirit that God is everywhere. To remove Him from the planet not only removes any chance of salvation during the Tribulation, and we know millions get saved during that time, but it would also mean God vacates the planet and is no longer everywhere. So it isn't the Holy Spirit who is preventing anti-Christ from being revealed.
The body of Christ however is portrayed as masculine - the body of Christ. We are also the bride of Christ -Ephesians 5:25-32 and Revelation 19: 6-9, but everywhere else we are the body of Christ - masculine. Also, Jesus said in Matthew 5:13 we are the salt of the earth, meaning we are seasoning and preservative for the planet. Once the preservative is removed, the earth goes rotten.
We could say it is he, the body of Christ, which is 'taken out of the way that the man of sin may be revealed' and I believe that is what Paul is saying. But for the sake of discussion, let us draw a line between the two and say it this way: The Holy Spirit in believers will depart with them, closing His work in the body of Christ at that time while opening His work to the rest of the people of earth in the closing years of man's government on the planet.
The 2 sets of believers
In our untrained minds we think all believers across the centuries are the same, but in God's mind He makes a distinction between the believers from the cross until the departure, and the believers who come to Him after the departure.
Jesus said in Luke 21:24 of the destruction of Jerusalem in the year 70: "And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive to all nations, and Jerusalem will be trodden down by the Gentiles until the time of the Gentiles is completed."
So in Jesus' mind, there is a 'time of the Gentiles'. Paul echoed this in Romans 11:25-26: "For I don't want you to be ignorant of this mystery brethren; that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the full number of the ingathering of the Gentiles has been fulfilled. Then all Israel will be saved."
In the Lord's mind there is a distinction between the times of the Gentiles, where the gospel will be preached in all nations and all peoples will be given the chance to partake in the covenant given to Israel, and the final focus on Israel after the fullness of the ingathering of Gentiles has happened.
Why 1967 is so important
The times of the Gentiles according to Jesus, draws to a close when Jerusalem is no longer 'trodden down by Gentiles'. Jerusalem was controlled by Gentiles from the year 70 when Rome destroyed the city, until 1967 when Israel took control of the city.
This is why the blindness on the Jews concerning Jesus as Messiah has started to lift ever since the mid-1960's and continues to gain momentum. As the time of the Gentiles winds down, correspondingly, the blindness on Israel lifts. So in the Lord's mind, He makes a distinction between people from all nations coming to Him between the cross and rapture, and those who come to him between the rapture and His return.
We - the Gentile believers that come from all nations - are the body of Christ, the Bride of Christ, the salt of the earth. Those saved in the Tribulation are not. They aren't invited to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. They are saved, but those saved from the cross to the catching away hold a special place in the heart of the Lord, for we were the wild olive branches grafted into the covenant of Israel by faith.
(If you've listened to my series on the 10 virgins of Matthew 25, you'll remember the 10 virgins/bridesmaids are not the Bride and it is incorrect to assign that parable to mean the body/bride of Christ - the bride is not found in the parable, it is about bridesmaids, the bride already being with the Groom in the marriage feast)
Now we must ask 2 questions: What happens in heaven with the body of Christ and who is going in the departure (what does the Feast of Trumpets have to say about that?) and what happens on earth after the 'departure' and revealing of anti-Christ (and what does the Feast of Trumpets have to say about that?).
One of the themes of Rosh haShanah, the Feast of Trumpets, is the wedding of Messiah, so I will answer the first question next week. Until then, blessings,