And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 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.

2 Thessalonians 2:6-12

On Good Friday, following the service, I spent time with a friend of mine from Church talking over Christian things. Later in the day, I found myself telling him that I felt (discerned?) that things were different now, that I was genuinely afraid to see the bonds of civil society being dissolved as Christians were separated from the world.

I and other Christians have often talked about “being behind enemy lines”, the beginnings of the Apostasy, and the war on Truth itself. But something is different now. There is an increase in intensity such that it can actually be felt, not merely inferred by analysis of experience. I do not claim to be particularly spiritually gifted as regards discernment, prophecy, miracles, or anything associated with this. Traditionally I have relied on reason and a small a small gift of insight.

However, now the situation has become palpable. What scares me about it is the human element. The conversation with my friend had turned to the subject of demons and an experience he once had. This talk had provoked my thoughts to the topic of today’s post. I do not claim to have seen demons. Rather, what I am experiencing is shock at what humanity itself is capable of when the grace of God departs.

As I said to my friend, I still believe that the departure of the Restrainer in 2 Thessalonians 2 is a particular event, just as the Abomination of Desolation is. However, I feel that we are seeing a gradual preparation for that departure NOW. It is as if the lid of Pandora’s Box were gradually being lifted: the big monsters cannot yet escape through the cracks, but their impish emissaries are abroad. In one swift jerk, at some future time, the great fiends themselves will be loosed, one and all.

This in itself is a sign to me, albeit not as great a sign as the rebuilding of the Jerusalem Temple. Christ, in Luke 21, tells us that one day the Times of the Gentiles will end, confirming the testimony of the Prophets that Israel will be graciously restored to the headship of the nations and the saints will inherit the rule of the earth. On some level, I believe the Gentiles know this, and are chafing at the thought that Christ is coming to take their power away.

Similarly, I believe that Satan knows he is getting close to the Great Tribulation – though, like the rest of us, he cannot be sure – except in general terms – until the clearer signs appear. The Book of Revelation tells us that when Satan is finally cast out of heaven by Michael the Archangel, he rages because he knows his time is short. I believe that short time is the same as the Great Tribulation: 3.5 years. Satan’s rage is not at its height yet, but I suspect he is agitated in anticipation of Michael’s victory.

Such a post must not end on gloomy thoughts, not on Easter Monday. We can fortify ourselves with the testimony of history, for example as written in Acts, and of our own times (for example, Canon Andrew White’s recollection of events in Iraq). In these dark times, Christ draws near, and even the angels show the regard God has for His martyrs and faithful servants. The enemy is motivated by hate, but God is love.