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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Michael Youssef » Michael Youssef - End of History and You - Part 3

Michael Youssef - End of History and You - Part 3

Michael Youssef - End of History and You - Part 3
Michael Youssef - End of History and You - Part 3
TOPICS: End times

Turn please to 2 Thessalonians in your Bibles. Second letter of Paul to the Thessalonians, chapter 2, "Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter that's supposed to have come from us, saying that the day of the Lord has already come. Do not 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. 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.

Don't you remember that when I was with you I used to tell you these things"? We pride ourselves on being a pluralistic culture, but do you know what pluralism means? Pluralism is nothing but saying that no one has the truth, but I want you to listen carefully. God said, "I am who I am". He did not say, "I am who you believe I am," amen? "I am who I am". And in every Epistle, if you read very carefully, of every one of the apostles, Peter, and Paul, and James, and John, and Jude, every one of them have combated small flaws, tiny errors at the time, because these little deceptions, these half truths, unless they're dealt with lickety-split, they cause a great departure from the truth. Why? Because the denial of the truth or the forgetfulness of the truth can lead not just to a small flaw, but disastrous deception.

And the Thessalonians have been misled by false teachers and by false preachers, by their deception. Some were so wicked to the point of forgery. They actually forged a letter, claiming to be from the Apostle Paul, and sent it to these poor Thessalonians, and they said that even Paul now is teaching that the second coming of Christ has already taken place. Imagine with me, these people who are beleaguered, these people are persecuted, these are going through these crushing circumstances. Imagine them hearing this in the midst of their difficulty. Imagine their worry, imagine their anxiety, imagine them coming unglued. Here they are, trying to live faithfully to the Lord and they're waiting for that great day in which they'll reign and rule with Christ, living in expectation of that day of reward.

Imagine them, as we have seen them, they are increasing in faith, they are growing in love, they are intensifying in their hope of the coming of Christ. But now, these deceivers are coming and shaking them, literally shaking them to the core. And that is why Paul spends time on this chapter, chapter 2 of 2 Thessalonians. Here, he's exposing the lie. Here, he's exposing their deception. Here, he's expounding the truth about the second coming of Christ, because Paul was so eager to alleviate their anxiety that resulted from a lie. And therefore, he gives us details about the return of Christ that really, together, they have not put anywhere else in the New Testament. It's so unique to this chapter. And Paul's teaching is so uncharacteristically detailed about the return of Christ that even some commentators, good ones, doubted the authorship of the Apostle Paul of this chapter.

Now, most of the 1st century Christians were familiar with the antichrist. This is not something new. They understood it because Daniel prophesied it and then it was expounded upon by the Lord Jesus Christ himself. In fact, listen to what Jesus said in Matthew 24:15. He said, "When you see standing in the holy place 'the abomination that causes desolation,' spoken of through the prophet," who? "Daniel". So, the Lord Jesus expounding on what Daniel said. "Let the reader understand". Here is biblical truth. There has always been evil leaders in the world. There were evil leaders in 1st century Rome. There were evil leaders in the 20th century: Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin. But the final antichrist is going to surpass them all. He is known through the Scripture by many names.

In fact, here in 2 Thessalonians there are several names to him. If you look at verse 3, he's named the man of lawlessness, the son of destruction. In verse 8, the lawless one. In verse 9, the one whose activities are according to Satan. In fact, it's the Apostle John in his first Epistle, chapter 2, verse 18, that he calls him the antichrist. And the word "antichrist" is a Greek compound word that's made of a preposition and a noun. "Anti" means against Christ. "Anti" means opposed to Christ. "Anti" means usurper of Christ's place. And John said there were many antichrists with a small A, but there's gonna be an Antichrist with a capital A. Anyone who opposes the person of Christ, or opposes the work of Christ, or opposes the divinity of Christ, or opposes the uniqueness of Christ, that person is manifesting the spirit of the antichrist. But the final Antichrist is gonna combine the worst characteristics of all these little antichrists.

Ever since Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, Satan has been working overtime to thwart God's plan of salvation. I mean, he's never stopped. Ever since the Garden of Eden and Adam and Eve, Satan wanted to stop the birth of the Messiah. Look how many times he tried to destroy the people of Israel, Pharaoh in Egypt, and Haman in Persia. And every time he's tried to wipe them out the face of the earth, he failed miserably. Do you know why? Because from the loins of some of those is gonna come the Messiah the Son of God. And even at the birth of the Messiah, Satan caused King Herod to kill all those babies. He did not know which baby, so he killed them all. God intervened and he took Mary, and Joseph, and Jesus whisked them into Egypt, until Herod died.

And even when Jesus began his ministry in Nazareth, you read about it in Luke chapter 4, he goes to the synagogue and reads the Scripture, and he says, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, hath anointed me to preach," and then all of a sudden, he says, "This Scripture has been fulfilled in your ears". "I am he that you're waiting for". And you know what they did? They came, and they took him out of the synagogue, and took him up on a sheer cliff. Those of you who've visited Israel, you know what I'm talking about, that sheer cliff outside of Nazareth. And they wanna push him out. Supernaturally, the Lord Jesus Christ moved away and they were foiled once again. And even on the cross, even on the cross, when Jesus died on that cross, Satan and his demons were celebrating in hell, but only for 3 days. Because on that 3rd day, Jesus Christ rose from the dead with every sign of his omnipotence. Amen, amen.

And in the last 2,000 years, Satan has been trying to thwart God's work by unleashing his venom, by unleashing his hatred toward Jesus' people. Everywhere in the world today, Christians are harassed and persecuted. We couldn't have said that 50 years ago, but I can tell you now. And his final, last push will be a person who's gonna be his toy. It's gonna be his instrument. It's gonna be his puppet. And that person will manipulate people. He will be doing Satan's bidding. And Daniel described this antichrist as the little horn who will rise from obscurity. Nobody will know where he came from, and he's gonna rise into the world stage, into prominence. He will be very intelligent person. He will be a very intellectual person. He's gonna be a very articulate person. He's gonna be a global leader. He will be like no one ever in history before him. He even gonna change times. He's gonna change the laws and the seasons. He will replace religious ceremonies and holidays with new ones that honor him. He will introduce satanic-inspired morality and calls it good.

And Daniel chapter 8, verse 23 describes him as insolent. He will be very skilled in manipulating, and intimidating, and intrigue. He will use double talk, and you don't know what side of his mouth he'll be talking. He's gonna mesmerize people with his shrewdness. He will derive all of his power from Satan, from behind the scene. For in Daniel 7:26, it says that he will not be able to be stopped by any human being, only God is gonna stop him. He will first appear as a benefactor of Israel, and he will appear as very sympathetic creature. Sympathetic to all groups. He will identify himself with everybody.

As a matter of fact, in the vernacular it would say he would say to the Christians, "I'm one of you. I'm a Christian". With the Muslims, "Hey, I'm one with you. I think you're great". With the Jews he said, "All your teaching is wonderful". With the atheists, and the agnostics, and all the others, he said, "Oh, I feel your pain". But then, halfway through his reign, he's gonna take off the mask of being sympathetic and being understanding. He's gonna take it off. The mask is gonna come off. He's gonna reveal his true identity. In fact, that's what Jesus meant in Matthew 24:15, "The abomination that causes desolation". Thank God this reign of terror is short-lived, according to the Scripture. Revelation 19:20, the Lord will destroy the antichrist and his kingdom by the breath of his mouth. He said, verse 3, "Let no one deceive you".

Why is that so important? Because deception, and if any of us have ever walked, in our walk, God deceived a little bit here or a little bit there, you'll understand what I'm trying to say. Deception can easily lead to anxiety and fear. Deception can lead to the abandonment of one's conviction. Deception can be very disheartening in standing firm and walking daily with the Lord. The truth is not determined by emotions, the truth is not determined by circumstances, the truth is determined by the Word of God. These charlatans have robbed the Thessalonians of their joy, they've robbed of their peace, and the Apostle Paul here is trying to restore their joy and peace.

Not only must the antichrist appear immediately before the return of Christ, again, verse 3, look at it again. He said, "Don't let anyone deceive you in any way". This in Greek is called double negative, and to put it in the vernacular, "Don't let anybody at any time in any circumstances in any way deceive you". "For the day of the Lord will not come until rebellion occurs". What is that rebellion? The Greek word "apostasia," from which we get apostasy, that's the word it used here. And the Apostle Paul does not deny the fact that the perusia, the return of Christ, is gonna come suddenly, especially for those who are unprepared and those who are unsuspecting. In verse 5, you see even Paul's disappointment that they had forgotten what he already taught them on the subject. He said, "Remember I told you these things when I was with you about the rebellion and about the antichrist"?

I wish we had that teaching here, 'cause we don't know what it is in detail, but he alludes to it. So, what is apostasy? What is he talking about? "Apostasy" is a word that means revolt. It means rebellion. So, what does it mean here? Listen to me. This is not the same as people who have never heard of Jesus. It's not the same as people who never heard the gospel. It's not the same as people who don't know what salvation is. No, no, no, no, these are the people who knew the truth. These are the people who understood the gospel. These are the people, even for a time, pretended to believe it. But these people are like a soldier who has defected from his troop to the enemy's side. They're like a solider who, for some reason, turned his back on his commanding officer and joined the enemy. We certainly are seeing it now like we have not see it in any time, at least from the little history that I know.

It is fashionable now, it is fashionable for megachurch pastors to say, "Yes, Jesus is my Savior, but he's not everyone's Savior". Really? Do you realize what they're saying? They're saying that Jesus is a liar. You say, "Michael, that's strong," but look, it's the truth. If Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the only giver of eternal life," and they said, "No, he's only my Savior, but not the Buddhist, and the Hindu, and the Muslim, everybody else's savior," they are saying Jesus is lying. I want to encourage you in every way, as politely and as lovingly as you know how, when you hear that, challenge it. Don't let it go unchallenged, for this is a blasphemy of unprecedented magnitude. This is the fight of the hour of our time, and we must not acquiesce, or give in, or just keep quiet.

So, what is the relationship between apostasy and the antichrist? Why did Paul put them together? Because apostasy or turning away from the truth of the gospel is gonna prepare the way for the antichrist. When absolutes are rejected even by churchgoers, when the truth of salvation in Christ alone is mocked even by those who claim to be Christians, when moral laws are replaced by alternative lifestyles even from pulpits, when marriage laws are mocked, and rejected, and replaced by lawlessness by church leaders, the antichrist doesn't have to pretend anymore. He's gonna throw off like somebody literally throw off their clothes. He's gonna throw off his robe of pretense and finally come out of his closet, as it were. After all, by that time, apostasy has paved the way and very few are gonna be faithful ones.

The remnant, holding onto the truth. By that time, apostasy has infected even so many of the churchgoers. Not the elect of Christ, of course, not the remnant. Bible said he's not only the man of lawlessness, but in verse 3 again, literal translation is, "The son of destruction". I know the NIV said, "Doomed to destruction". The son of destruction. Did you know there's only once in the Bible that that term has been given to somebody else other than the antichrist? Did you know that? The son of destruction was given only to one person. Can you guess? Judas! God bless you. He's the only one in the New Testament that was given that title other than the antichrist.

Listen, for 3 years Judas was one of the disciples of Jesus. Judas was as close to Jesus as the other disciples. For 3 years, he was privileged to firsthand see the sinlessness of Jesus, to see the righteousness of Jesus, to see the wisdom of Jesus, to see the miracles of Jesus, to see the teaching of Jesus, to see the wisdom of Jesus, and yet he betrayed him with 30 pieces of silver, the price of a slave. Judas betrayed the Son of God, and the antichrist will claim to be God. Judas defiled the temple with the blood money that he received and the antichrist would desecrate those who are the temple of the Holy Spirit, the believers, when he tries to beat them into submission to force them to worship him, and they will stand firm.

What is the small flaw? I don't know where you are. I don't know what the small flaw in your life. I know the small flaws that the devil tries to bring into my life. I know those. Beloved, let me tell you something. Every person who is into worshiping self, every person whose total focus is self, every person whose total attention is given to self, when your hours, and your monies, and everything is on self, I wanna tell you something, in some way, in many ways, you have the spirit of antichrist. And as a person, I wanna challenge you today to repent of that. Come to the Lord while you can. Come to the Lord while there is time. You can repent of that today. Surrender that self to him and let him fill it with his Holy Spirit in order to bring you eternal life and a life in Christ, not only in this life, but in the life to come.

Turn away. Turn away, because the antichrist will get tired of pretense, and halfway through his reign, he will abandon pretense. The second half of his rule, he will come out and say, "It's all about me. It has always been all about me. I just told you that in the beginning". But everyone who had put their whole faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, everyone who trusted no one else for salvation except Jesus Christ need not fear that day. In fact, the opposite is true. The opposite is true. When we see these signs, we should be rejoicing and be celebrating with longing in our hearts, looking forward to that day because it means that the day of our redemption is drawing nigh. Amen, amen, amen. Give God glory.
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