Who is the end-time Restrainer?

Christian Author and Pastor Ron Craig

One of the hang-ups of end-time speculators is the argument about who or what will be removed from this planet before the Tribulation begins. Of course, that issue is fervently discussed only among those believers who believe in the Pre-Tribulation Rapture of the church. Other end-time speculators adamantly argue that the church (Christian believers) will not be caught away seven years before the end of this age, but will remain on earth and suffer under Antichrist during the entire Tribulation Period. They obviously believe the Tribulation is the time of the church’s troubles (which the Bible does not teach) instead of the Jew’s troubles (which the Bible does teach—Jeremiah 30:7). Makes no sense!

However, a Scripture passage that troubles them is 2 Thessalonians 2:6-7, which plainly says that some entity must be removed from the earth before the Antichrist can arrive on the end-time scene. The Bible reason being, that entity is now restraining (holding back) the Antichrist. And Paul said the restrainer was restraining (holding back) the Antichrist in his day, and he prophesied that it will continue to restrain the Antichrist until whatever the restrainer is will be removed from the earth by Jesus Christ catching away that restrainer in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17). To be removed does mean to be removed—totally, not partially. Whatever the restrainer is will be completely removed from earth before the Antichrist can come on the scene. What or who is the Restrainer?
   It cannot be the Gentile nations, for multitudes of Gentiles will descend upon Israel under the Antichrist for the purpose of wiping the Jews off the face of the earth. (By the way, have you heard that threat before? And if so, by whom?) So, the Gentile nations cannot be the restrainer. They are Antichrist’s helpers!
Can it be the Jews? The Jewish nation (Israel) will be the central character in the Great Tribulation. Remember, that seven years will be a time of Jacob’s trouble. Deity will be simultaneously dealing with both Jews and Gentiles, for the prophets repeatedly prophesied that He will purify the Jews in the last days so that they will finally acknowledge Jesus Christ as their Messiah, and will at the same time punish the Gentile nations for their mistreatment of the Jews throughout history. (The church did not replace Israel—another foul doctrine we will have to deal with in future lessons. Thus, the church is not the central player in the Tribulation. It is about Israel. Foul heresies never seem to end.)
     The prime guess of the end-time speculators about the entity to be removed from earth before the Antichrist arrives is the Holy Spirit. First of all, the Holy Spirit cannot be removed from any place. If He could be removed from just one place, then God would not be omnipresent. Read Psalms 139:7-9 for starters. Besides, would God actually take away the Holy Spirit and leave His church in the Tribulation to survive on its own? Besides once again, how would anybody get saved without Holy Spirit conviction? And many will be saved in those days.  

       (Ron Craig is pastor, teacher, and author of Christian books; and these articles. You may view all the books by logging onto www.livingwayfellowshiponline.org. While logged on the website you can even listen to audio Bible-lesson podcasts. You may also send your questions or comments to ronwritercraig@gmail.com.)

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