THEOLOGY & APOLOGETICS
The Holy Spirit and the Tribulation
By Craig Simons
The prophet Daniel wrote of 70 weeks, or 70 sets of seven years, totaling 490 years (Daniel 9). Sixty-nine of these weeks took place between the time the order would be given to rebuild Jerusalem (Nehemiah 2:1-8) and the time when "the Anointed One will be cut off," or Jesus' crucifixion. What Daniel didn't realize was there would be a break; at the end of 69 weeks, the Dispensation of Law ended and the Dispensation of Grace began. The focus of God's work moved from the Jews to the church. And the relationship between the Holy Spirit and God-followers changed. During the time of the Jews, the Holy Spirit did not permanently indwell every God-follower as He does in the church age. At the Rapture of the church, all believers, living and dead, will be taken up with Jesus. After the Rapture, however, and throughout the Tribulation, others will come to follow Christ — the "Tribulation Saints." The Tribulation is also the time of Daniel's last "week" of years, when God's focus returns to Israel. The question becomes, will the Holy Spirit continue to indwell believers as in the church age, or merely regenerate them as in the age of the Jews?
There were many heresies that circulated through the early church, and the apostles had their hands full combating these false teachings. That is how we got about half of our New Testament. The letters (or "epistles") to the early churches were often written in response to these problems and heresies. One heresy that plagued the Thessalonian church was that the Day of the Lord had already arrived and that was why they were suffering such severe persecution. Second Thessalonians 2 even begins with the apostle Paul telling them, "not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come." Paul went on to explain what would have to take place before the day of the Lord arrived. The first and foremost thing was "the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God."
The apostle Paul explained that the man of lawlessness could not be revealed until "he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way" (2 Thessalonians 2:7). In 1 Corinthians 6:18-20, we're told to flee from sexual immortality because our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is only on the earth as He is today because of the church who was "bought at a price" by Jesus Christ on the cross. Prior to what Jesus did, the presence of the Holy Spirit was temporary and His presence could be taken away at any time. This is why David could say, "...and take not your Holy Spirit from me," in Psalm 51:11.
The "he" referred to in 2 Thessalonians 2:7 is the Holy Spirit indwelling the church. When the church is raptured, His indwelling presence will temporarily be removed from the Earth because there will be no Christians. The lack of His indwelling presence will create a vacuum of sorts that allows the man of lawlessness to be revealed. We often refer to this person as the antichrist. When new people are saved during the Tribulation, they will experience the Holy Spirit's indwelling presence. The terms of the New Covenant remain the same. It is safe to say that His indwelling presence probably will trigger the massive persecution that will break out against believers during the Tribulation (Revelation 6:9-11). His indwelling presence will be how they will be able to endure that time period.
Image Credit: rafido; untitled; Creative Commons
Tags: Biblical-Truth | End-Times
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