Further Sojourning…Now Through 2 Thessalonians, Pt. 5

Further Sojourning…Now Through 2 Thessalonians, Pt. 5

Study Guide, May 19, 2024

Pastor Clay Olsen

Loona is a Pet-bot…a pet robot. It has a high-definition camera, and it recognizes faces…it understands many of your gestures, and even plays fetch like a dog. Plus, it can also serve like a mobile Alexa or Echo. And advertisers tell us that in the next five years, Pet-bots are going to be very popular. So, do you think you would want a Pet-bot or a real pet? Maybe both…the Pet-bot could play with your dog or cat while you are away.

Welcome to the world of AI! Artificial intelligence is already in so many of our everyday lives, from our smart phones to our smart appliances to our smart cars. Some AI products can create and perform music and art and even write stories. Hopefully, AI will be a great benefit to aiding in medicine and in helping with the healing of sicknesses and diseases. Of course, in a world that is bent toward sin, you know that AI is also going to be used for evil. The criminal world is already using it to counterfeit people’s images and voices and to steal their private financial information and such. Some groups are working on making AI into war machinery. Some are even purposefully making Mentally ill AI machines, perhaps for research, but others for evil purposes. And, get this, some Humanoid robots already have been given their own nationalities and passports for travel. That would be a weird conversation, sitting next to a Humanoid on an airplane. “Can I have your pretzels? You don’t eat food, right?”

But what, we asked last time…what will be the End Game of AI? What will be the culmination of the activity of Artificial Intelligence in relation to Humanity? That is where we are going in our study passage that we opened up last time. So let’s explore.

2 Thess 2:3-4- “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.” NASU In this revelation to these believers in Thessalonica, and to us, the Apostle Paul just tied over 500 years of prophetic teachings from Daniel to the prophecies that would be given in another half century ahead of him in John’s final prophecies in the book of Revelation. And Paul reveals that in the final days of Earth’s present history, that there will be a world ruler that proclaims himself as being God to the whole world. And one of the ways he enforces world-wide worship of himself is through the use of one particular AI…one unique Artificial Intelligence. And what is the particular assignment that is given to this particular Artificial Intelligence? That’s what the Apostle John reveals. Let’s look.

Rev 13:11-18- “Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb and he spoke as a dragon. He exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence. And he makes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose fatal wound was healed. He performs great signs, so that he even makes fire come down out of heaven to the earth in the presence of men. And he deceives those who dwell on the earth because of the signs which it was given him to perform in the presence of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who had the wound of the sword and has come to life. And it was given to him to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast would even speak and cause as many as do not worship the image of the beast to be killed. And he causes all, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free men and the slaves, to be given a mark on their right hand or on their forehead, and he provides that no one will be able to buy or to sell, except the one who has the mark, either the name of the beast or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for the number is that of a man; and his number is six hundred and sixty-six.” NASU

The final days, actually, the final three and a half years on Earth before the Lord and King Jesus returns to rule over His created world…these will be the worst times, the greatest times of tribulation that have ever been experienced in the history of mankind. It will be a time that the Earth is ruled by the unholy trinity. And the unholy trinity is made up of Satan, and the Antichrist…which is the ‘first beast’, and the False Prophet…which is the second beast. Again, Satan counterfeits everything he can of God’s, so there is even a counterfeit ‘Trinity’…Satan as the Father, the Antichrist as the Son, and the False Prophet as the Holy Spirit. Yes, but what about the ‘AI’? This particular ‘AI’ has also had another ID throughout history. This ‘AI’ is the same as the ‘AD’ that both Daniel and Jesus said was going to be on the scene in the End Times. And what did they say? Let’s look at that, too.

Dan 9:27- “And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate.” NASU

Matt 24:15,16 – “Therefore when you see the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains.” NASU

This ‘Abomination of Desolation’, this ‘AD’ that both Daniel and Jesus spoke about is the same ‘Image of the Beast’, or ‘AI’, that John reveals will be animated by Satan, or given Artificial Intelligence by Satan through this False Prophet. And this AI’s mission is to enforce world-wide worship of this Artificial Image of the Antichrist. My oh my…And we thought Nebuchadnezzar’s command to worship his statue was bad…that was small potatoes next to this Artificially Intelligent Image of the Beast!

Actually, there was even a preview of this coming event in the historical experience of this ‘abomination of desolation’. And that is something to make special note of…of how the Scriptures are also fascinating in how in several different prophecies there are ‘partial previews’ of their fulfillments that happen before the complete fulfillment, like with Isaiah’s prophecies of Jesus’ birth, and Joel’s prophecies of the Holy Spirit’s ministry, and now with Daniel’s prophecy about the Antichrist. For example: In 167 BC, which remember is about 400 years after Daniel prophesied this… (Remember the other word for Prophecy is ‘PROOF’!!! Prophecies are ‘Proofs…you see!’) Anyway, in 167 BC a Greek Ruler by the name of Antiochus 1V came onto the scene. And we realize right away that something was really wrong with this guy, since he called himself “Antiochus Epiphanes”, with means, ‘Illustrious one’ and ‘god manifested’! He went to war against the Jews and even desecrated the temple by setting up an image of Zeus on the altar and sacrificed a pig on the altar.

And as horrible as that was, still…it was only a preview of worse things to come. But he was only a foreshadow of the Antichrist, as he did not establish any covenant with Israel, nor did he animate that image or statue that the Apostle John spoke about, and so on. Plus, nearly 200 years later, Jesus said that the ‘Abomination of Desolation’ that Daniel talked about was still in the future…it was yet to happen in the End Times…in the worst tribulation that has ever been upon the Earth.

Back to this ‘man of lawlessness’. By the way, how ironic is it that the Antichrist, this ‘man of lawlessness’ will enforce more laws upon the whole world than you can imagine! What makes him the ‘man of lawlessness’ is not that he doesn’t force others to live according to his laws, but that he refuses to live under the laws of the Supreme Law Giver of the Universe…the Lord Jesus Christ!

Plus, you know, that’s always been a historical ‘red flag’ principle to watch out for… ‘The weaker the leader or leaders, the more laws they make for others.’ Like with the Pharisees, they had 613 laws for others…Jesus had 2! “Love God with all of your heart, mind, and soul…and Love others like they were you!” Jesus said all of God’s laws are summed up in obeying these two. Watch out when you see this principle in action, for it’s the same with churches, and families, and businesses, and governments: Many laws equal weak leaders. Few, but godly laws, equal strong leaders.

Now, where were we again? That’s the thing about Prophecy…it’s like being in an Amusement Park…there are so many things to see and do! So, again, what is the culmination of Artificial Intelligence in relation to Humanity? We learn from this prophecy in Revelation 13 that Artificial Intelligence concludes with focusing on the historical issue of ‘who mankind will worship’! Will mankind’s worship be given to Satan, even if unwillingly, or willingly offered to God? Just think about that: All of man’s work…all of man’s inventions…all of man’s ideas and aspirations through the centuries of human existence will all come down to this one issue of: ‘Who will you worship?’

For all those living on Earth in the last days of the Great Tribulation period, it will not matter what world religion a person identifies with or even if they choose to have no religious affiliation at all, because the image of the beast, this Artificial Intelligent entity will demand that all people of Earth give their worship to it, as it represents the Antichrist, or they will be killed. That’s why believers in the Messiah will be fleeing to the mountains or wherever they can to elude the reach of the Antichrist. Some will…some won’t. But that is the ‘End Game’ of Artificial Intelligence in the ‘End Times’. Whatever man does with AI until then, this is what the Antichrist is going to do with AI when he gets ahold of it in the End Times.

Which also reveals that for every person that has ever lived or ever will live, regardless of anything else they have ever done or will do; the first issue of life is always: “Who will you worship?” If a person does not choose to worship their only Creator and the only Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, then they will be forced to worship the actual Antichrist…Satan. Even if they think they are not worshipping anything or anyone, by default, by reason of their captivity in sin and to the devil…Satan is claiming it. Life always comes down to: ‘Who will you worship?’ And your answer to that determines every significant thing about your life now and for all eternity! There are only two choices. One is the only true God, the Lord Jesus Christ, and the other is the little ‘g’ god, the temporary god of this world system, Satan. There are no other Gods in existence.

Now then, Paul did also give these Thessalonians and us another clue as to the timing of the revealing of the Antichrist. We saw it last time, and we have a little time to check it out this time. So let’s check it out: 2 Thess 2:6-8- “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…NASU

And the $64,000 question is: “Who is ‘he who now restrains’? Of course, the other question is: Why is it always the $64,000 question? Maybe it should be the ‘One-million-dollar question’ now, with inflation and all…Anyway, the question has historically been asked if Paul was referring to a Person, or was he alluding to an influence? Plus, if he was referring to a Person, was he referring to a Person of the Trinity of God, or to an Angel working on behalf of the Trinity of God? First of all, notice that in verse 6 he says, ‘you know what retrains him now’. So, first he reveals that there is a restraining resistance going on that is keeping Satan from his desire to not only enforce a governing influence upon the world, but to also enforce this world-wide worship of himself through his human representative. Which, by the way, the Antichrist is just another example of Satan’s counterfeiting ways…as it counterfeits the Incarnation of Christ Jesus, who is both God and Man. In this demonic possession of a human being Satan has taken on an incarnation of both Spirit and Man…albeit an ‘Un-holy Spirit’.

Another question about this resistance is ‘what is this resistance all about…or why is there a resistance to Satan’s end times working? The resistance does have several aspects, but remember that the central focus of Satan in the End Times will be his demand of worship or death. There will no longer be the religious freedoms that now exist in the world. Although much of this freedom is our world is being more and more stripped away due to rising persecutions world-wide, but still, the liberties to spread the Gospel of the Great Commission are greater now than they will be in the Great Tribulation. There will still be a great response to the Gospel in the Tribulation Age, but the conditions for the Great Commission will be greatly affected.

But the central thing is this: What is Jesus doing in this Age, this Church Age? Right, He is building His Church! And Who is the One doing the work of convicting of sin, and righteousness, and judgment? Who is the One who is regenerating, converting, sealing, indwelling, and placing or spiritually baptizing people into the body of Christ…the Church of Christ? The Spirit of Christ…the Holy Spirit! But Paul said that once this ‘Fullness of the Gentiles’ is completed, which is a reference to the completion of the Church Age, then this ‘Restrainer’, who is ‘the Holy Spirit’ will complete His restraining influence that allowed for the world-wide building of the Church. He will be taken out of the way…in the sense that God the Holy Spirit will then permit the events of the End Times of the Tribulation Age to happen just as God foretold through His prophets.

Plus, in connection with and in fulfilment of Daniel’s prophecy, this completion of the Church must occur before the fulfilling of the 70th Week of Daniel’s prophecy. So what God the Holy Spirit is also restraining is that He is restraining the events of this 70th Week. He is restraining the timing of the Tribulation Age until the Church Age has been completed. The Holy Spirit is restraining the Antichrist from commencing with the events that will unfold in the last Age of Earth before the King returns to establish His Kingdom upon the Earth.

Prophecy is not only amazing…it is also ‘Fun’! But this brings up another Question: So what will the ministry of the Holy Spirit be like in the End Times? Since God the Holy Spirit is no longer working on this restraining ministry, what will His ministry be? We’ll explore that in our next study together!