What could cause the apostasy of 2 Thessalonians 2:3?
I have been reading 2 Thess. 2. Paul seems to indicate that believers (brothers) would be gathered to be with Jesus before the day of the Lord. I presume that this means at the rapture before the 7-year tribulation begins. He also seemed to indicate that a falling away or apostasy would occur, also before the day of the Lord, after which the man of lawlessness (or Antichrist) would be revealed. What do you think might cause this apostasy, and could it be happening now?
Initially, before addressing the apostasy issue, I have to say that I disagree with some of your assumptions and presuppositions. For instance, I adamantly reject the Pre-tribulation view of the Rapture. (You may wish to read my response to another email: Is the Pre-tribulation view of the Rapture the correct view?) Although I do believe that the main Rapture event will occur just prior to the Day of the Lord period, I definitely do not equate the Day of the Lord with the final seven years of this age, the so-called "tribulation period" or 70th Week, nor with the Great Tribulation period that will begin in the midst of the 70th Week.
I am convinced that the principal Rapture event will take place after the opening of the Sixth Seal. Then the Seventh Seal: the Day of the Lord will ensue. During the initial phase of this period, God's wrath on the "day of vengeance" will be dispensed upon the earth. This will be God's righteous vengeance (Isaiah 34:8, 61:2, 63:4)—a direct, specific response to the slaying and spilling of blood, during the Fifth Seal period, of slain believers whose souls will have been crying out for God to avenge their blood (Revelation 6:9,10). No longer will the blood from these slain believers be concealed (Isaiah 26:21). It is from this wrath and vengeance of God that true believers will be protected (1 Thessalonians 5:9), via the Pre-wrath Rapture.
Now, pertaining to your question, many feel that the decline of morals and values in society, along with increased anxiety from corrupt governmental systems, the threat of terrorism, growing inflation, the escalating conflict in the Middle East, and other instability in the world are resulting in a growing apathy and indifference among Christians. This may be interpreted, by some, as an increasing falling away or "apostasy" (from the Greek ), culminating just prior to the beginning of the 70th Week. But, in their minds, the Rapture event will save them by whisking them all away to be with the Lord, at which time the Antichrist will be revealed (2 Thessalonians 2:3).
On the contrary, I do not see it this way at all. I see the "apostasy" of which Paul wrote as taking place well into the final seven-year period (70th Week).
The main Rapture event (the Pre-wrath Rapture) will not take place until as late as a year prior to the end of the seven years (see Why do you believe that the Rapture will take place a year before the end of the 70th Week?). There possibly might be a partial Mid-tribulation Rapture, of "firstfruits" believers, just prior to the beginning of the Great Tribulation. In any case, a great many believers will become extremely disillusioned before the main Rapture event occurs, realizing that the trials, tribulations, and persecution of the Great Tribulation have begun, yet they continue to remain here on earth.
Many believe that the "revealing" of the Antichrist will be at the beginning of the 70th Week. However, I see 2 Thessalonians 2:3,8 as the revealing of the antichrist spirit of the man who has been becoming globally powerful for a few years years, very likely out of public view. His "true colors" will become manifest in the midst of that seven-year period.
Paul stated this:
Don't let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion [apostasy or falling away] occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. (2 Thessalonians 2:3)It will be only after the first 3½ years of the 70th Week that the true, "beastly" character (Revelation 13:1-8) of the "man of lawlessness" or "man of sin" (that is, the man being possessed or influenced by the antichrist spirit) will be revealed. At that time, he will blaspheme the true God and slander His name (13:6). Also, according to Paul, the following will occur:
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. (2 Thessalonians 2:4)Furthermore, the second beast or False Prophet (Revelation 13:11-14) will deceive the inhabitants of the earth. Satanic counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders (such as, perhaps, those of Project Blue Beam and HAARP) will be deluding multitudes of people, maybe even nominal believers, who are not grounded in the truth of God's Word:
The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness. (2 Thessalonians 2:9-12)I believe it is quite possible, even probable, that a great many ostensible believers will apostatize (fall away) from the Christian faith, after realizing that the 70th Week is transpiring, yet knowing that they have not yet been caught up from the earth to be with Jesus. They will not have prepared themselves mentally, emotionally and psychologically for the trials, distress and suffering that suddenly has come upon them. I feel that Jesus may have portrayed such people here, which will be during the time He had described as the "beginning of birth pains":
At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other.... (Matthew 24:10)In essence, I feel it very well might be that a significant number of these "disillusioned" and "disenchanted" people, having been led to believe (falsely) that a "Pre-tribulation" catching-away would occur, but suddenly finding themselves facing insurmountable trials and hardships, may fall away. This could be due to such things as unemployement, hyperinflation, bankruptcy, foreclosures, and homelessness during the first half of the 70th Week, and dire persecution, disasters, and cataclysms during the second half.
Many may come to think something like this: "Hey! We've been assured that Jesus would be coming for us before this point, but it hasn't happened. Maybe Jesus has abandoned us—or maybe there is no Jesus after all!" Perhaps this even could cause many "marginal" Christians to join the ranks of Islam (see Do you think the receiving of the mark of the beast will be a conscious choice, or do you think people could be tricked into taking it?).
I believe that many people of all faiths will apostatize, falling away from their belief systems in a world turned upside-down and filled with disasters and utter chaos. This mostly will be manifest during the second half of the 70th Week and will escalate, for believers, up to the point of the main Pre-wrath Rapture (following the opening of the Sixth Seal), and for unbelievers until the return of Jesus to earth, as the Rider on a white horse, to rule and reign when the Seventh Trumpet is blown, at the end of the final 3½ years.
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