- Pastor Steve Conley
Is Michael The Restrainer of 2 Thes 2
Understanding the Activity of Michael the Archangel
in the Middle of the Seventieth Week
In this paper, I would like to make a strong case for Michael the archangel being the restrainer that Paul says is withholding the revelation of the man of sin until it is God's determined time.
Michael's suitability to be the restrainer
The Holy Scriptures present Michael as the mightiest of the Heavenly Host. He is seen opposing Satan on a handful of occasions in the Scriptures. Jude tells us that Michael contended with the Devil over the body of Moses, whom he rebuked in the name of the Lord. As recorded in Daniel 10, it is Michael that dealt with the prince of Persia when he had detained Gabriel on his way with a message for Daniel. In the future Michael and his angels will fight a war in heaven with Satan and his angels, after which he will cast Satan to the earth. It is Michael who appears to have been tasked with the responsibility to hold back the revelation of the man of sin until it is the right time.
Michael's unique relationship to the middle of the seventieth week
In the future eschatological period known as Daniel's seventieth week, the archangel Michael will play a significant role. We find him in three passages that present events that take place in the middle of the week.
1) Michael stands up and an unparalleled time of trouble begins (Dan 12:1)
Dan 11:45 And he shall plant the tabernacles of his palace between the seas in the glorious holy mountain; yet he shall come to his end, and none shall help him.
Dan 12:1 And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book.
Dan 12:2 And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.
Dan 12:7 And I heard the man clothed in linen, which was upon the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand unto heaven, and sware by him that liveth for ever that it shall be for a time, times, and an half; and when he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished.
The context of the end of Daniel chapter 11 is the activities of the Beast at the end of the age. In chapter 11 we learn characteristics about him and see some of his military activities. The chapter ends with him placing the tabernacles of his palace between the seas in the glorious holy mountain. This location appears to be Mt. Zion in Jerusalem. The significance of this is that it is at that time (Dan 12:1) that Michael makes a change in his activity which results in an unparalleled time of trouble (Dan 12:1). This time of trouble is consistent with the great tribulation Jesus spoke of. We also see that there is a unique period length that is mentioned in relation to what is taking place in the beginning of chapter 12. The length that is given is "a time, times, and an half" or 3½ years. Seven times in the Scriptures we find this same length of time spoken of in various forms: 1260 days, 42 months, and 3½ years. It appears each time that they are associated with the second half of the seventieth week. The obvious conclusion is that the change in activity by Michael takes place in the middle of the week and leads to the beginning of the unparalleled time of trouble.
2) War in heaven, Satan cast to the earth (Rev 12:7-14)
Rev 12:7 And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,
Rev 12:8 And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.
Rev 12:9 And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
Rev 12:10 And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.
Rev 12:11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.
Rev 12:12 Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.
Rev 12:13 And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child.
Rev 12:14 And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.
Rev 12:17 And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.
Michael and his angels will fight a war in heaven with the dragon (Satan) and his angels, after which Satan is cast to the earth having great wrath. Once upon the earth, Satan goes after a remnant of Israel (represented by the woman), but she is hidden and fed by God in the wilderness for 1260 days (Rev 12:6). The 1260 days indicate that the war in heaven took place in the middle of the week. Again, we see that Michael is very prominent in the middle of the week.
3) The abomination of desolation starts the great tribulation (Matt 24:15, 21; Dan 9:27)
Mat 24:15 When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)
Mat 24:21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.
Dan 9:27 And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.
The temple is defiled in the middle of the week which initiates the great tribulation. This is consistent with the Daniel 12:1 passage, but Michael is not mentioned by name or referred to here.
4) The revelation of the man of sin (2Thess 2:3-10)
2Th 2:1 Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him,
2Th 2:2 That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.
2Th 2:3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;
2Th 2:4 Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.
2Th 2:5 Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?
2Th 2:6 And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time.
2Th 2:7 For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.
2Th 2:8 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:
2Th 2:9 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,
2Th 2:10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.
In Paul's instruction to the Thessalonians, he tells them that before the day of Christ can come there must be a falling away first and the man of sin be revealed. He says that they now know "what" (the apostasia and revelation of the man of sin) was keeping the day of Christ involving Christ's revelation from being at hand. He also mentions that there is one who is withholding the revelation of the man of sin and that they, the Thessalonians, were told about this before. This one who is withholding the man of sin, is referred to by Paul in the masculine gender. It is Michael. This revelation of the Beast, that is being withheld, involves the man of sin sitting in the temple and shewing himself to be God. Paul also says that this Antichrist (man of sin) shall receive power from Satan.
We already know from the previous passages we looked at that the abomination of desolation takes place in the middle of the week and it begins the great tribulation. Here, we see further details concerning the defiling of the temple, and, learn of one hindering the work of the mystery of iniquity. It is said that this hindering will continue "until he be taken out of the way." It is interesting to note that the last Greek word in verse 7 is "mesos" which means middle even though it is translated "the way". It is as if Paul is saying that the restrainer will continue to hinder until the middle. I wonder what middle he was referring to. Could it be the middle of the week? Could this restrainer be Michael who is associated with the middle of the week in so many other places?
I believe that there is ample evidence to support Michael as the restrainer of 2Thes 2 and not the church or the Holy Spirit as pretribulationists need it to be.