Community Group Study Notes
- Have someone in your group provide a brief, 2-minute summary of Sunday’s teaching. When finished, give others in the group an opportunity to add their own thoughts as to what the message was about.
- Paul writes in 2 Thessalonians 2 about a great apostasy – a departure from the faith like no other. One of the root causes of that apostasy is that people who profess to believe in Christ will be deceived. What can a genuine believer do to make sure he is never deceived by the enemy? Read Matthew 7:21-27 in conjunction with this question. Why will the people group that Jesus speaks about be deceived? And how does Jesus recommend you live to make sure you are not deceived?
- Paul has some great steps to take in the here and now to deal with evil. Romans 12:9-21 speaks to that. Read it together. He tells us to hate evil, not to repay evil, and overcome evil. Take time to come up with specific ways you can do each: show that you hate evil, that you will not repay evil (get even), and that you will overcome evil with good.
- Paul also talks in 2 Thessalonians 2 about a time when there is no restraint. What are some evidences that we live in a culture that is losing restraint and how can we as followers of Christ demonstrate Spirit-produced restraint?
So I think this series on the second coming of Christ has been so healthy, not only to our church, but also to us individually because when it comes to the idea of the second coming of Christ, there can be some... I'll say it this way, crazy emotions that get involved and sometimes some bad theology and thinking that cause us to go in different places. Let me give you one example from my own life. I don't know if this has ever happened to you, but there've been times that I've gone home and expected my wife to be there and she's not. And the house is really, really, really quiet. And so I call her on her cell phone and she doesn't answer. And so I get a little panicky by that and I call my pastor, son, Jonathan, and it goes straight to voicemail. And for a moment, flitting across my mind is this idea, did Christ come back and I missed it?
Anybody at all? Has that ever happened to anyone? Okay, only a few. So maybe I'm crazy and maybe you can't identify with me, but I know that there's a group of believers who can. And that's who we've been studying, the church at Thessalonica. They had allowed some unsettling emotions and some bad theology trick them regarding the second coming of Jesus Christ. In fact, when we turn our attention to 2 Thessalonians 2, as we wrap up this series, we find that believers had been tricked into the same thing that I just discussed, that Christ had come back or Christ was about to come back, and that they either had missed it or they are about to. And they had the apostle Paul teaching them about these things and still they had been tricked. Well, you remember from the very first message that pastor preached in this series, that the Thessalonian believers had been tricked into believing that there would be a certain group that might miss the second coming of Christ and that is those who were dead in Christ.
And so Paul tells them in our text in 1 Thessalonians 4, that actually the dead in Christ would start the party. They would rise first. Well, somehow between the first letter and the second letter, they had been tricked by false teachers into thinking that there would be another group among them that would miss the second coming. And if it wasn't those who were dead in Christ, then it was obviously those who are alive in Christ, them. And they were led to believe that they had missed the second coming of Christ. And Paul is going to say that that's not going to be the case. Look how it says in the first two verses, 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.
So they had become unsettled. And when he says easily unsettled, that means it didn't take much. And it doesn't seem to take much even in our day where people will hear some particular teaching and become unraveled regarding the second coming of Christ, and they become agitated. And that should be a clue to us because the teaching about the second coming of Christ is not designed to alarm us or unsettle us, it's actually to encourage us and comfort us. Now, Paul had to deal with false teaching in almost every letter that he wrote, but the false teaching here, Paul wasn't sure where it came from. He said it might have come from a supposed prophecy, as in, and you hear this all the time, God gave me a word. Don't you just love it when people throw down the God card?
So God told me this, or maybe it came from a sermon that someone might've preached at Thessalonica, or maybe it might've come from a forged letter allegedly from Paul, but either way, whatever form it came in, Paul wasn't so sure how it came. It contradicted what he had already taught them about the second coming of Christ, convincing them that they either had missed it or were about to. And Paul is going to make it very plain. You haven't missed it and you won't. He is merely echoing the words of Jesus in Matthew 24. Immediately after the stress of those days, the sun will be darkened, the moon will not give its light, the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken. Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven, and then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
When Christ comes, no one, no one will miss it. The only real question for all of us will be whether or not we are ready when he comes. So here, Paul teaches about the coming of our Lord and our gathering together with him. One event that we are looking forward to. And he's already unpacked that for them in the first letter. And he's going to explain now in this second letter in the second chapter, that you haven't missed it and you won't. Here's the summary of what he's going to teach in this section. Don't let anyone deceive you in any way for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed. The man doom to destruction.
He says there are two great events that will proceed the second coming of our Lord, the rebellion, the Greek word is apostasia, apostasy, departure from the faith. Some will who profess faith, but do not possess it will depart and apostatize. Go back to pastor's message a few weeks ago on that subject. And also the man of lawlessness will be revealed. Let's get it on the table. He's referring to the same thing that John was referring to, that we know as the anti-Christ. Two events will proceed the second coming of Christ, the apostasy or the rebellion or the departure, and the man of lawlessness.
Now, the first thing that I want you to see is those two things are connected. The apostasy, the rebellion, and the man of lawlessness being revealed. Maybe one leads to the other. Maybe there is such a departure from the faith that it creates the environment for an anti-Christ to deceive those who claim to believe but actually don't. Or maybe the presence of the anti-Christ or the man of lawlessness is so persuasive and so deceptive that he causes a rebellion of faith. They're connected in some way. Maybe they feed off of each other. That's the first thing that I want you to see that they're connected in some way. The second thing that I want you to see is that Paul uses the definite article before both, the apostasy and the man of lawlessness, separating them from all other apostasies and men of lawlessness.
This is the apostasy, this is the man of lawlessness. Let me give you this illustration. Maybe it will help to see how important the definite article is. I love New York strip steak. Plan to get me some this afternoon. I love New York strip steak. And so if I said to you on this table, pretend with me for a minute that I have a New York strip steak from this restaurant, a New York strip steak from this restaurant, and another strip steak from this restaurant, but right here, I have the New York strip steak. You understand what I'm doing? I'm saying in comparison, this steak is way above every other. So when Paul talks about the apostasy and the man of lawlessness, he's creating a category by which they need to stand all by themselves. This is what he's teaching them. Christ coming will be proceeded by the apostasy and the man of lawlessness.
So first of all, there will be the apostasy that will make all other apostasies pale in comparison. There have been previous rebellions. There have been previous departures from the faith. There was one in the garden when Adam and Eve were deceived into departing from the faith. There was an apostasy leading up to the great flood. There was an apostasy at the tower of Babel. Why? The whole history of Israel in the Old Testament is a chronicle of apostasy or rebellion or departure. Starting with the golden calf that was worshiped instead of Yahweh under Mount Sinai when Moses was up in the mountain receiving the law, all the way up to right before the Babylonian captivity, when Ezekiel because he's already in Babylon, has a vision of what's taking place in the temple in Jerusalem, and he sees images on the wall in the temple that are both idolatrous and pornographic.
Jesus said, when he came on the scene, that these kinds of rebellions and apostasy and departures from the faith and people that we know who once in church and no longer walking with God, those would happen all the way through history. He said it this way in Matthew 24, watch out that no one deceives you for many will come in my name claiming I am the Messiah and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. So all the way through history, Jesus is saying, many will come and many will be deceived, but there is coming a time, there is coming a time. Paul says that there will be a great apostasy, a great turning away from the faith by those who claim to profess it unlike any other, and Jesus said the same thing.
Verse nine, then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time, many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other. And many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness or lawlessness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. Is he saying there will come a time when from the appearance of a community of faith, many will walk away and only a few will remain. It's words of caution to us and it is in or maybe because of this departure that the man of lawlessness will be revealed. Well, there have been men of lawlessness before. Israel, the Northern Kingdom, after the kingdom split, after the death of Solomon, had 20 Kings and every single one of them were wicked.
There were lawless men including the first Jeroboam who over 23 times, the writers of the Old Testament says, caused Israel to depart to apostatize. There had been pretty bad Kings. Herod the Great, the ruler over Palestine when Jesus was born, Caesar Augustus, the Roman emperor at the time set of Herod the Great, the most wicked ruler to ever sit on anyone's throne. During the time of Paul, there was Caligula and Nero, men of incredible lawlessness. There've been the Hitler's, the Stalin's, the Lennon's. Men in great power who are the personification of evil. That shouldn't surprise us that there have been through history, man of lawlessness, people who stood in opposition and against Christ, anti-Christ. John says it this way, dear children, this is the last hour, and as you have heard that the anti-Christ is coming, even now, many anti-Christs have come. This is how we know we are in the last hour.
We should not be surprised that there are men of lawlessness, that there are people who stand in opposition to Christ. Paul said that even in his time period, there was that spirit that was alive at the time. He says it this way, for the secret power of lawlessness is already at work, but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so until he is taken away. There is coming the man of lawlessness, means the depth of his evil will be unmatched in human history. He will make Caligula and Nero and Hitler and Stalin look like boy scouts. So it's good for our sake apparently, because it was good for Paul's sake to unpack this to the Thessalonians, it's good to unpack and see exactly what Paul is teaching so that we are not deceived.
So I'd like to suggest to you that the man of lawlessness will first of all be revealed. He will be revealed. He says this twice in this passage. He says that first of all, in verse three, don't let anyone deceive you in any way for that man will... They will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doom to destruction. And then he says it in verse eight, and then the lawless one will be revealed. We'll look at the rest of it later on. So twice he says that he will be revealed. Future tense. He will be revealed. So I want to settle something right away. He has not been revealed, he will be revealed. Therefore, guessing at who he might be is a colossal waste of time. And doing these kinds of things as some prophecy speakers are prone to do, trying to guess at who he might be, only creates the emotional anxiety that Paul tries to stop in the Thessalonians.
And there've been many attempts down through the years. Some guesses concern the idea that John speaks in Revelation, that it appears that this man of lawlessness, this anti-Christ, comes back from the dead. And so the early church actually thought that the anti-Christ might be Nero. That he had died, but he was going to come back from life. And one of the things that aided that view was that if you take the name Caesar Nero in Aramaic, you get the number 666. Martin Luther during the reformation because of the political and religious power that the anti-Christ will have actually thought that the anti-Christ would be the Pope. In our day, we've heard many different kinds of discussions as who it might be. Ronald Wilson Reagan, because there are six letters in each of his three names.
It's Hitler, it's Obama, it's Trump. Well, of course it is. Or you can actually take the name Barney the purple dinosaur and make it out to be the number 666. Paul's advice is clear, don't guess because those who are true, genuine believers, will be able to identify him when he comes and those who are false believers will be deceived by who he is. So the first thing I want you to see is that he will be revealed. The second is that he will come undetected at first. He will come undetected at first. Of course he will because he will deceive. He will not lay out his hand before you at first. And one of the ways that I know that from this passage of scripture is because of a clue that Paul inserts here.
Look at it as we look at the next verse. Don't let anyone deceive you in any way for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed. The man doomed to destruction. Older versions say the son of perdition. The man doomed to destruction. This is how he describes him. It is only used one other time in the entire New Testament to describe someone else. See if you can figure it out. It comes from the mouth of Jesus in the last prayer he prayed before he went to the cross. While I was with them, Jesus said, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. Non has been lost except the one doomed to destruction. So the scripture would be fulfilled. Well, you know he's talking about Judas and he's giving us a clue that the anti-Christ like Judas will come undetected at first.
Think of how Judas came undetected. Jesus knew he was a devil, but no one else did. He traveled with Jesus for three and a half years just like the other 11. He was considered a true disciple of Jesus just like the other 11. He undoubtedly preached the good news and did miracles just like the other 11. He fit in with the other 11 until he revealed himself on that last night as something else. When Judas betrayed Jesus, he did not become a different person. He revealed who he was from the start. The man of lawlessness will be the same way and the encouragement here for all of us is don't be deceived by the deceiver. Don't be deceived is really the practical outworking of this passage of scripture for all of us. Don't be deceived. We'll get to that later. Because many of us will be deceived.
Many people will be deceived when he comes and he reveals himself in this way. He will claim third to be God. He will claim to be God. This is what Paul says for us in verse four. 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. Now, people who know the scriptures know that when Paul writes those words, he's going back in time and he's referring to a passage by Daniel and then one by Jesus. Here's the one in Daniel, the King, he's talking about the anti-Christ, will do as he pleases. He will exalt and magnify himself above every God and he will say unheard of, blasphemous things against the God of gods. He will be successful until the time of wrath is completed for what has been determined must take place.
He will show no regard for the gods of his ancestors or for the one desired by women, nor will he regard any God, but will exalt himself above them all. And when Jesus comes on the scene, he takes all of that teaching and others about the anti-Christ, the man of lawlessness, and he puts it together in one phrase. It's called the abomination of desolation. Here it is. So when you see standing in the Holy place, the abomination that causes desolation spoken of through the prophet Daniel, let the reader understand. Putting all of that teaching together, Daniel and Jesus and Paul, he is saying, there's coming a time when the man of lawlessness, the anti-Christ, will stand in the presence of God's temple and claim to be God and receive worship.
Now, when he says that he will stand in the place of God's temple, there's some precedents to that. In between the Old Testament and the New Testament, there was a period of time when the Syrians ruled over Palestine. And a Syrian King by the name of Antiochus IV Epiphanes, actually placed his image in the temple in Jerusalem, demanded to be worshiped, and sacrificed a pig to offend the Jews. This led to what is known as the Maccabean Revolt. The Jews under the leadership of Judas Maccabees, throughout this horrible image, purified the temple, and to this day, the Jews celebrate the feast of Hanukkah. After Jesus had ascended, a Roman emperor, Caligula, tried to set up his image in the temple, but he wasn't able to do that. This is what Jesus and Paul and Daniel are referring to. He says, God's temple, Paul does. That could be a reference to a literal third physical temple being rebuilt in Jerusalem.
Solomon's temple was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar. Zerubbabel's temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD and perhaps there's a third temple that will yet to be built. He could be referring to that, Paul could. But every single time Paul refers to the temple of God, he's referring to the church. And as incredulous as this might seem, he would then be saying, there's coming a time when this man of lawlessness will set up his likeness within the presence of the church and be worshiped as if he's God. This would require obviously a great apostasy, a great departure from the truth. So how do we unpack that? Secondly, the apostasy.
So I know the way you're looking at me, and we should be for me to say that someday is coming, an anti-Christ who will stand in the place of Christ among God's people and be worshiped as if he is Christ. What has happened? How does he deceive this man of lawlessness so many? Paul says it this way in verse nine, 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 and all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refuse to love the truth. And so be saved. He shows up in counterfeit miracles. Not that they're fake, but that they don't point to the truth. But they deceive those who are perishing. And why do they perish? Paul says, because they did not love the truth.
You understand, don't you? That there's a difference between coming into a building and giving mental assent to the truth and loving the truth and knowing the truth and how important that is to know and love the truth so that you are not deceived by that which is not true. Do we understand that there are religious people even today who will seek to deceive you by claiming miracle working power? We need to be careful. Do you remember what Paul said elsewhere? It's actually in 2 Corinthians 11, for such people are false apostles, deceitful workers masquerading as apostles of Christ, and no wonder for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. They say that when they teach men who and women who are going to work recognizing counterfeit money, that they don't study counterfeit money, they study real money. And it's by knowing inside and out real money that they aren't deceived by counterfeit.
So it is also of us. The way that we are not deceived by someones who would come in the name of Christ but not stand for Christ, is to know the real Christ. And this is why we encourage you always to be pressing into Jesus and knowing him so that you're able to recognize that's not of Christ. We need that desperately. And the lie that anyone but God should be worshiped, still deceives because they did not love the truth. Again, someone who does not embrace the true Christ is going to be deceived by a false Christ. And do not think that that spirit, John says that spirit is still at work among us so that I need to be listening carefully to the people that I do pay attention to religious, spiritual people, and whether or not their message satisfies the flesh or speaks to the inner man that loves Christ so that I'm not deceived.
So I need to, as best as I can, connect all the dots that Paul gives to us in this passage. The man of lawlessness is so successful in deceiving, not a few, but many because of the judgment of God. See, Paul talks here about a third event and it is this, the removal of restraints. Here it is. The man of lawlessness will thrive in an environment of apostasy and deception. And as a result, the judgment of God will come where there will be no restraint whatsoever. Here's how he says it in verse six, and now you know what is holding him back. He's talking about the man of lawlessness, 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 until he is taken out of the way.
And Paul says to the Thessalonian believers, you know who's holding him back. They knew, but we don't know exactly what he's talking about. And so there've been a lot of guesses. What is holding back the man of lawlessness from being revealed? Some have said that it's an angel as in Daniel, when the archangel held back, restrained, the power of the Prince of Persia. Or maybe what's holding the anti-Christ, the man of lawlessness from being revealed is government. Or maybe it's the Holy Spirit holding him back. I don't know, but I do know what it looks like when all restraint is removed and you have nothing but evil. Paul said it this way in Romans, for although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles. Therefore, God gave them over.
And God is going to allow this at the end in an incredible way. But God can also allow that to happen in our lives, that when we do not hold fast to the truth, but we turn away from it and we are deceived by lawlessness, God will say to this final generation before he returns, and God may say to some of us, I'll let you have what you want. And when you have this final age where all restraint is removed, you have nothing but pure evil. What an oxymoron. Evil will rule the day. It's God saying to our world, if you do not want my influence, here's what it looks like when you don't have it at all and evil reigns. Now, if Paul's purpose here is to help us, then I need to find that. I have to find the help. And it's this, the man of lawlessness and the deception that gives him the environment to thrive, and the removal of restraint that allows evil to rule, it will not last.
Here's the good news. Paul says in verse eight, and then the lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroyed by the splendor of his coming. Here's the good news. When Christ comes, evil will be destroyed. Once and for all, evil will be destroyed. That ought to make us shout. That ought to make us say something. Praise God. There's coming a day when evil will be destroyed and you and I would be saying that if we understood the full ramifications of exactly what evil has done, but think of it with me. Evil will be destroyed, never to rise again, never to deceive again.
I was wondering whether you were awake or not, I'm just saying. Never to torment the souls of those who truly believe ever again. No more evil. No hearts ever destroyed. By the evil, desires of lust fueled pornography. No one ever overwhelmed again by alcohol or drug abuse. No marriages ripped apart by abuse or infidelity ever again. No children bearing the burden of their parents' brokenness like a death sentence. No more emotional pain that has metastasized itself to almost every relationship we have. No more evil. Evil will be destroyed when Christ comes, but until he comes back, there has to be a so what in the lives of those who truly believe.
I want to give you three before we close. If evil will be destroyed, then first of all, let's not be deceived by it. You and I need to fall in love with Jesus and his word so that we are not deceived by evil at all. That's the plea in Paul, by the way. Twice he says in this section, I don't want you to be deceived. That might seem odd to us. That we would be deceived by evil because if I asked you to close your eyes and think about evil, maybe you're thinking of Hitler and the Holocaust. Maybe you're thinking about men with religious robes on committing unspeakable evil against little boys and little girls. That's evil. Maybe you're thinking of little babies being ripped out of their mother's womb. That's evil.
But that evil has a root in our hearts that if it's not removed or defeated by the power of the cross, can destroy us. And that root is the deification of self. That root that springs up all evil is idolatry, where I worship myself. And when I worship myself, I can be deceived by someone else who comes in a name other than Christ. John Calvin, over 500 years ago said it this way, the surest way to self destruction is to obey yourself. I want that to land on you and land on me. The surest way for me to destroy my own life is to obey myself. There is no greater evil. This is the sin of the garden of Eden. There is no greater evil than to take the place of God. When a person has followed that trail of self exaltation, it should be no surprise that they are deceived by someone who comes in the name of Christ. Do not be deceived. And the only way that you can make sure that you are not deceived is when you know Christ.
Secondly, let's not be defeated by it. Let's not be defeated by it, by evil. So I was reading this passage over and over and over again, and finally somewhere in the middle of this week, this popped out from the text to me, verse eight. Look at it one more time. Then the lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroyed by the splendor of his coming. Sometimes we think, don't we? That evil and righteousness are equal forces. That somewhere in the cosmos, there's this great battle between God and Satan in the heavyweight ring, and they're fighting this cosmic battle and we don't know who's going to win and who's going to lose. Sometimes when we watch the news and see how awful our world is in parts, it's easy to think that there are equal forces. Or sometimes when you're not able to escape some sin and you feel so overwhelmed by it, it might be easy for you to think that God and Satan are equal forces fighting this out, but Satan has lied to you.
Look at me. When Jesus returns according to what Paul says, when Jesus returns, with the breadth of his mouth, he will destroy the wicked one. There's no equal force here. Jesus Christ is Lord. He conquered evil at the cross, he overcame it by his resurrection and when he comes back, he will finish it once and for all. Jesus Christ is King. One more thing, let's overcome evil with good. Let's overcome evil with good. Sometimes I almost get the impression, and maybe you do too, that some believers think that the best way to defeat evil is to take a sledgehammer to it. And sometimes when you read people's reactions on social media, you'd think that that's what they were doing, but God has, through his spirit, a different way for us to overcome evil.
Paul says it this way in Romans 12, do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. That's the spirit led strategy for us to defeat evil. Why does Paul suggest that we overcome evil with good? It's because evil recognizes evil. If you punch me in the jaw out in the atrium this morning and I hit you back, you may not like it, but you understand it. But if you punch me in the jaw this morning in the atrium and next Sunday when I arrive, I have a freshly baked apple pie for you, you don't understand that. Evil does not understand the way of good and therefore the only way to overcome evil is with good.
So back when I was 10 or 11, I was watching the world news with my mother. And obviously what I'm about to relate to you has had some impact on me or I wouldn't be able to remember it 50 years later. So there was a African American man in the Deep South who was being interviewed by a reporter on the news, and he had just been beaten senseless by some white men, again, in the Deep South. And the reporter said to him, "How can you put up with this? How can you endure this?" And he said this, "I'm going to let them kick me and kick me and kick me until they've kicked all of their hatred out of them and into me, and I will transform it into love." And I began to think, of course today, isn't that exactly what Jesus Christ did with evil?
As the ushers come forward, they're going to distribute the elements of communion because it's perfectly appropriate that we celebrate communion because the defeat of evil happened at the cross and Jesus Christ, when he hung on the cross, was allowing you and me to kick him and kick him and kick him until we had kicked all of our hatred out of us and into him and he transformed it into love. And so while the elements are being distributed, would you just pause for a moment and contemplate on the incredible love and power of Jesus before we celebrate communion together?
As we hold the elements, I want you to know just how life changing it was for Jesus to be in that upper room on that last night with his disciples before he went to the cross. Because the Jews had been celebrating the Passover for almost 1500, years and there was a script that would take place. There were words that were to be spoken. So for example, when Jesus took the bread, they were expecting him to say what had been said for 1500 years, this is the bread of affliction that our forefathers ate in the wilderness. Let us be thankful. But then that night, and their jaws must've dropped when Jesus said, "No, this is my body. This is my body which is broken for you. Broken so that I could destroy evil with my death." And so we eat it with thanksgiving.
And then he took the cup. And so too with the cup, there was a history, there were words, there was a script. And out of a passage of scripture from Exodus 6 which speaks about four statements, Jesus took the third of four cups that were sitting at the Seder meal. The third cup that the host of the Passover would say, "I will redeem you with an outstretched arm." And Jesus changed the script. He says, "I will redeem you, not with an outstretched arm, but with two on the cross." He says, "This is the cup of the covenant that I'm making with my blood. I am going to defeat evil in the strangest way possible by dying." And his death makes our victory over evil possible. And so we drink it with Thanksgiving.
As I said at the beginning, I think it's been incredibly healthy for our church family to have its focus for the last few weeks on the second coming of Christ because this is the event that all of history is moving towards. So I'd like to close by telling you what it means to me. Back when I was seven years old, and I don't mind telling you that's 1965, that's relevant to the story, my mother took care of for a while, an elderly woman. She was 105 at the time. She actually remembers as a five year old girl, the body of Abraham Lincoln coming through Buffalo on a train as he went to his final burial place. So she's old. And for whatever reason, probably because my dad was on the 11:00 to 7:00 shift working at night, we had to go with my mom one night as she took care of this woman.
The fact that she was 105 was troubling. The fact that she was actually in a crib was very troubling to me. The fact that she cried out for my mom to come and help her all through the night so that I did not sleep, was incredibly troubling. I can take you to that house on Payne Avenue in North Tonawanda. She lived on the second floor and there was an outside porch. And I remember about five after 7:00 in the morning because I hadn't slept, going out and sitting on that porch waiting for my father to pick us up because I knew that when I saw his face, that long night was over.
You sometimes feel, between now and the return of Christ, that you're in a long night. Don't get me wrong, there's so much to love about my life. I love where I work and who I work for. I pinched myself that I'm actually getting to do this for a living, what I'm doing right now. 35 years ago, next April, God gave me a most beautiful wife. I'm thankful for my pastor, son, Jonathan, and his beautiful wife, Gabe. And don't get me started talking about my grandchildren. But sometimes it feels like it's a long night. And it isn't so much that I longed to escape, it's just that I longed to see him.
The Bible says that that is a true characteristic of everyone who truly loves Jesus. The very last words of Paul in 2 Timothy are those who love his appearing. It's just I long to see him and I know that when I see him, that long night will be over. No one has ever said it better than Fanny Crosby. Now, that might be a name unfamiliar to many of you, but Fanny Crosby lived in the 1800s. Like Helen Keller, she was stricken with blindness at a very early age, six months, but she was also a believer in Jesus Christ. And she wrote countless, countless hymns. And she would often be asked, "Fanny, would you like to receive your sight in this world?" And she would say, "No, I don't because the very first face that I want to see is his."
And then she wrote this great hymn, someday, the silver cord will break, and I no more as now will sing, but all of the joy when I awake within the presence of the King. And the chorus that Fanny Crosby wrote, the blind Fanny Crosby, I shall see him face to face and tell the story saved by grace. You see, this message series has not been about pulling out your prophecy charts in your timelines. This series has been about invoking in those of you who believe, a longing for his appearing and a wake up call for those who do not. And if you need to do and make some kind of spiritual decision, the fireside room is always open. I'd encourage you to go in there. There'll be prayer partners and pastors who would love to help you. Are you ready for his coming? Do you have one eye on the task of the mission on here on earth and one eye looking towards the day when he will return for you? What a great day that will be.
Father, thank you for this time. Thank you for what pastor Jerry has done. You've allowed to do through him and turning our attention, setting our affection on things above, setting our affection on the one above who will someday return for us. And what a day that will be when my Jesus, I shall see. Help us Lord, to not live in such a way that we are so easily troubled by the things that are happening in this world because you are in control and someday you will decide, you will decide for our savior to return. And we long for his appearing because we love him. And I pray Lord, that that would be true of every heart who is listening to me right now. We long for your appearing. We long to see you. And with that hope, we cry out the same words that's closed out our scripture, even so, come Lord Jesus. It's in his name that we pray and everyone said amen.