We continue to cover the period represented by the prophetic church at Thyatira (538 to 1798 AD) — the darkest period in church history. It is crucial to understand this period because the roots of the “great falling away” are common to individuals backsliding or churches and movements departing from the way.
Apostles to the first-century church taught that the LORD would not return until apostasy came and the man of sin took his seat in the temple of God, which is the church. This is how the Apostle Paul put it to the Thessalonians:
“Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God.
Do you not remember that while I was still with you, I was telling you these things?
And you know what restrains him now, so that in his time he will be revealed. 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.
Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the LORD will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming; that is, the one who’s coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved,” 2 Thessalonians 2:3-10.
As we’ve covered, there are two basic teachings on the fulfillment of this prophecy. One teaches that all of this is yet to be fulfilled. The other teaches that it has been fulfilled. However, there is truth to both of these positions. There was a primary fulfillment in the Middle Ages, but there have also been many others on a lessor scale. Again, all of these are revelations of principles that can happen over and over.
The futuristic view is now the most popular and widespread interpretation of this text among Evangelical, Pentecostal, and Charismatic movements. A century and a half ago, almost all Protestant Christians believed this had been fulfilled historically. Why this drastic change in eschatology? It is mostly because of our ignorance of history. Almost everyone that studies church history in depth begins to see the merit of the historical view, but many understand that it may still have a futuristic fulfillment as well. Therefore, it is the principles that we need to understand.
The mystery of lawlessness was already at work when the Apostle wrote to the Thessalonians. What elements of it did he see in his own time? How are they operating in our time? Not seeing these, combined with the tendency of many to almost completely disregard history, has caused many to fall over and over again to the same traps and devastating distractions — including the widespread promulgation of teachings leading to the original apostasy. We do need a re-examination of the most popular eschatological views in light of history.
In 2 Thessalonians 2:3 the Apostle wrote, “Let no one in anyway deceive you, for it (the coming of the LORD) will not come unless the apostasy comes first.” One question we must ask is how those holding to the futuristic view can claim that Christ could return at any time? This is just one of many conflicts of an entirely futuristic eschatology. When we begin to see how both views have some merit, these conflicts are removed. So this is what we will do as we continue this study.
~ Pastor Rick Joyner