The Lie

Q. 2 Thes 2:11 For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie. What is the lie? Why would God send people a powerful delusion? Wouldn’t that make God responsible?

A. The phrase “the lie” appears only twice in the NIV NT, here and in 2 Thes 2:9. To answer your question, let’s start with the immediate context – 2 Thes 2:1-12, which talk about the Great Apostasy in the end times, and the Man of Lawlessness, the Antichrist. We analyze 2 Thes 2:9-12 by dividing the 4 verses into three parts – that which the lawless one does, the people’s response, and what God will do:

9 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,
10 and all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.
11 For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie
12 and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.

Note the chronological sequence:
• First, the lawless one, empowered by Satan, will use power, signs and wonders to deceive.
• Next, the people who refuse to love and believe the truth to be saved, choose to believe the lawless one’s lie and delight in wickedness. That’s why they perish.
• Then God sends the people a powerful delusion to confirm their refusal to love the truth, so that they will be condemned.
So God’s sending the delusion did not cause their unbelief, but in response to it. They perish because of their own choice and love of wickedness.

What is “the lie”? In the NKJV NT, the phrase appears one more time:
Rom 1:25 who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

“The lie” is contrasted with “the truth of God”. The background goes all the way back to Genesis 3, the temptation and fall of man:
Gen 3:1 Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?”
• Gen 3:4-5 Then the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

The very first lie in the Bible is a direct contradiction of God’s word in:
Gen 2:17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.
claiming that it cannot be trusted. It imputes an ulterior motive to God’s prohibition, not for our good to protect us, but to selfishly guard His superiority so that we won’t be like Him. Therefore obedience keeps us down while disobedience will promote us to be like God. This lie has been repeated throughout the ages in all religions, men trying to establish their own goodness apart from God. Men had fallen for it time and again, and will continue to do so until the end.

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Does God Deceive the Unrighteous? (2 of 2)

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(Continued from yesterday)

Why would God send them strong delusion? In response to their rejection of the truth:
• they did not receive the love of the truth (v 10), which preceded God sending the deluding influence, &
• they did not believe the truth but took pleasure in wickedness (v 12).
In other words, they rejected the love of the truth first, & God confirmed their choice by sending the deluding influence. They chose not to believe, & God let them have their choice.

This is consistent with God giving them over in Rom 1:
v 24 Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them.
• v 26 For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural,
• v 28 And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper,

Notice the downward spiral in “God gave them over”. It wasn’t that they erred once & God gave up on them mercilessly. It was that they are repeatedly unrepentant, hardened their heart & settled in sin as a way of life, that God allowed them to have what they wanted.

It was the same pattern in the case of Pharaoh, who first hardened his own heart in the first 5 plagues (Ex 7:13-14, 22; 8:15, 19, 32; 9:7, 34-35), then God confirmed his choice by hardening his heart from the 6th plague on (Ex 9:12; 10:1; 20, 27; 11:10; 14:4, 8). The first two mention of God will harden Pharaoh’s heart (Ex 4:21; 7:3) is simply prophetic of what God will do, not His causing it.

God did not help Satan in deceiving the unrighteousness; He gave them over to judge them. There is a huge difference.

Does God Deceive the Unrighteous? (1 of 2)

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Q. 2 Thes 2:11-12 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
Rom 1:24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts.
Does God merely give them up or help Satan in deceiving the unrighteous?

A. On the surface it seems that God is actively causing the damnation of the unrighteousness by sending them strong delusion, but He does not help Satan in deceiving them, for the following reasons:

1. It’s not His nature:
Num 23:19 “God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent; Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?
• Titus 1:2 in the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago,
• Heb 6:18 so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us.

2. It’s not His desire or wish:
Ezk 18:23 Do I have any pleasure in the death of the wicked,” declares the Lord GOD, “rather than that he should turn from his ways and live?
• Ezk 33:11 Say to them, ‘As I live!’ declares the Lord GOD, ‘I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn back, turn back from your evil ways! Why then will you die, O house of Israel?’
• 1 Tim 2:4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
• 2 Pet 3:9 The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.

So what does 2 Thes 2:11 mean? Let’s examine the text carefully:
2 Thes 2:9-12 that is, the one whose 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. For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false, in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness.

Note the following:
• The one coming, the man of lawlessness, the son of perdition (v 3), the lawless one (v 8), will come with deception of wickedness for those who perish (v 10).
• God will send those perishing a deluding influence, in order that they may be judged.
The Antichrist comes with deception, while God sends a deluding influence. What’s the difference?

Deception translates the Greek word apate, which means “to cheat, beguile”), that which gives a false impression, whether by appearance, statement or influence. The emphasis is on the one actively deceiving, whose aim is to destroy.

Deluding, on the other hand, translates the Greek words plane, which means:
1. a wandering, a straying about
a. one led astray from the right way, roams here & there
2. metaphorically
a. mental straying – error, wrong opinion relative to morals or religion
b. error which shows itself in action, a wrong mode of acting
c. error, that which leads into error, deceit or fraud.

The emphasis is on the one wandering astray, who erred morally resulting in wrong action.

Why would God send them strong delusion?

(To be continued)

Isaac Blessing Esau?

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Q. Why would Isaac bless (predict) Esau to break away from Jacob? Isn’t that cursing Jacob with trouble in the future? Maybe that accounted for all the problems in Middle East today? Why was Jacob rewarded for deceiving Isaac and stealing Esau’s blessing?

A. Isaac blessed Esau because he loved him, even though God already told Rebekah “the older shall serve the younger” (Gen 25:23):
Gen 25:28 Now Isaac loved Esau, because he had a taste for game, but Rebekah loved Jacob.

Despite Isaac’s favoritism, all he could do was to state the negative of Jacob’s blessings for Esau:

Esau: Gen 27:39a Behold, away from the fertility of the earth shall be your dwelling,
Isaac: Gen 27:28b And of the fatness of the earth,

Esau: Gen 27:39b And away from the dew of heaven from above.
Isaac: Gen 27:28a Now may God give you of the dew of heaven,

Esau: Gen 27:40a By your sword you shall live, And your brother you shall serve;
Isaac: Gen 27:29a Be master of your brothers,

Esau: Gen 27:40b But it shall come about when you become restless, That you will break his yoke from your neck.
Isaac: Gen 27:29b And may your mother’s sons bow down to you.

The best that Isaac could bless Esau with was that he will break Jacob’s yoke from his neck. I do not consider that as cursing Jacob with trouble in the future, as Isaac himself blessed Jacob with “Cursed be those who curse you,” (Gen 27:29). He knew better than to curse Jacob.

I also don’t think Isaac’s prediction or prophecy caused the problems in the Middle East today. The children, representing two nations and two peoples (Gen 27:23), struggled within Rebekah (Gen 27:22) even before they were born:
Rom 9:11-12 for though the twins were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that God’s purpose according to His choice would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls, it was said to her, “THE OLDER WILL SERVE THE YOUNGER.”

Jacob was not rewarded for deceiving Isaac and stealing Esau’s blessing. He was blessed because of God’s choice, before they were born and had done anything good or bad. God did not explain His choice, just as He did not explain why He allowed Esau (Edom) to break Jacob’s (Israel’s) yoke from his neck. The election was purely His sovereign choice, and He allowed Rebekah’s and Jacob’s deception to offset Isaac’s prejudice to accomplish His purpose. The Bible did not say anything beyond that, and I can go only as far as the Bible revealed.

The Shemitah

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Q. There are lots of doomsayers about Sept. 2015 because it is a new sabbatical year. Many important events have happened during these sabbatical years. I wonder if there is any credence to it. There are people who claim that they have visions shown by God for the things that will happen in the future in the U.S. when the son of perdition takes power. I know this is close to the end time. Am I right to disregard them because of:
• Mt 24:24 For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect.
• Rev 22:18 I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book.

A. You are referring to the Sabbath year in Leviticus 25. I think the current buzz of doom sayings was popularized by Messianic Rabbi Jonathan Cahn, who wrote the New York Times bestseller “The Harbinger” and followed it up with “The Mystery of the Shemitah“. Others fuel the speculation by pointing to the blood moon tetrad prophecy, a series of four consecutive lunar eclipses in 2014-15 falling on Jewish holidays, as a sign to the beginning of the end times.

Shemitah 5

On the surface the evidence seems convincing, with the last two Sabbath years (2001 and 2008) coinciding with 9/11 and the deepest stock market crashes in recent history. Alarms were sounded that unless America repents, disaster could strike with dire consequences. Such warnings are well-intentioned as the US does need to repent and Christians should always be prepared for emergencies, but is the theory true? I do not have the gift of prophecy, so won’t be offering any insights beyond the following comments on the fundamentals:

1. The Sabbath year was meant for good, not evil.

Lev 25:3-5 Six years you shall sow your field, and six years you shall prune your vineyard and gather in its crop, but during the seventh year the land shall have a Sabbath rest, a Sabbath to the LORD; you shall not sow your field nor prune your vineyard. Your harvest’s aftergrowth you shall not reap, and your grapes of untrimmed vines you shall not gather; the land shall have a sabbatical year.
• Ex 24:10-11 “You shall sow your land for six years and gather in its yield, but on the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow, so that the needy of your people may eat; and whatever they leave the beast of the field may eat. You are to do the same with your vineyard and your olive grove.
• Deut 15:1-2 At the end of every seven years you shall grant a remission of debts. This is the manner of remission: every creditor shall release what he has loaned to his neighbor; he shall not exact it of his neighbor and his brother, because the LORD’S remission has been proclaimed.

God designed the Sabbath year to give the land rest, so that the poor may eat. It was also a year for the remission of debts, literally a release. It was not intended to be a year for the punishment of sins, despite present writers making it out to be a year of reckoning.

2. The Sabbath year was for Israel, not Gentile nations.

Deut 5:15 You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out of there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore the LORD your God commanded you to observe the Sabbath day.
• Ps 147:19-20 He declares His words to Jacob, His statutes and His ordinances to Israel. He has not dealt thus with any nation; And as for His ordinances, they have not known them. Praise the LORD!

Deut 5:15 refers to the Sabbath day, but the principle is that God wanted Israel to remember He delivered them. His laws were for Israel, not other nations. Current authors applying the Sabbath year to other nations is not warranted.

I am not saying that there is no merit in what the financial pundits are saying about the pending collapse of the US$ and the stock market. Anyone analyzing the data realistically would realize that the Federal Reserve is like a house of cards ready to collapse and we are living in perilous times. However, you could draw that conclusion by examining economic data alone, without bringing the Sabbath year in as the cause. By doing so one is essentially saying that God works in 7-year cycles, so He will act in Sep. 2015 as prophesied by the proponents. But God is God and not bound to a timetable as predicted by our theorists.

In fact, a lecturer in empirical research methods at the European School of Culture and Theology, Germany, after reading “The Mystery of the Shemitah” did a statistical analysis to determine whether Cahn’s theory is correct. He ran tests of US GDP and stock market data versus Shemitah years and quarters, but found that there is no significant correlation between the Shemitah periods and GDP. As to stock market movements, the Shemitah periods explained only 1% of the stock market variations, meaning you have to look to other factors to explain 99% of the ups and down! His paper is attached in case you are interested.

Cahn shemitah research report

So how should we respond? The end will not come until the gospel of the kingdom has been preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations (Mt 24:14). Let me quote from the Lord Himself in Mt 24:

Mt 24:4-6 See to it that no one misleads you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many. You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end.
• Mt 24:13 But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.
• Mt 24:23-24 Then if anyone says to you, ‘Behold, here is the Christ,’ or ‘There He is,’ do not believe him. For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect.
• Mt 24:42, 44 “Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming. … For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will.

Notice the repetition of “mislead”. Deception will be the order of the day. Do not be frightened, be on the alert, be ready. Have emergency supplies of food, water and survival necessities on hand. Have cash ready when credit fails. Don’t panic. Spread the gospel. Work the works of Him who sent us while it is day; night is coming when no one can work (Jn 9:4). Do not fear; endure to the end. We are in the Lord’s hands. He will guide and protect His children.