Who is the Restrainer?
Who is the Restrainer in 2 thess. 2:6-7? Well, Robert Van Kampen seems to have come up with a clear understanding and interpretation of this difficult passage. I will not list all the other interpretations. He likewise coordinates it with the other Scripture that relates to this subject. He has contributed an important piece to the end-time puzzle.
Van Kampen clearly states that the Restrainer is Michael the Archangel. He does a somewhat exhaustive explanation of how he arrived at this conclusion. Without being unclear I will attempt to present his excellent argument. According to Van Kampen, the Restrainer is Michael the Archangel.
6 And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time.7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way. 2 Thess 2:6-7 (NKJV)
The Thessalonian believers had already been taught this matter. There will be three things that occur about the same time: 1) the Great Apostacy, 2) the removal of Michael as Israel’s protector, and 3) the revealing of Anti-Christ.
There are three passages of Scripture that Van Kampen uses to explain the role of Michael: 1) Daniel 12:1, 2) 2 Thess. 2:6,7 and 3) Rev. 12.
Key to this interpretation is in the statement “…Michael stand up” Dan 12:1 (KJV)
Below the author of this article has inserted Robert Van Kampen’s large Technical Note. This information comes from his excellent book The Sign – of Christ’s Coming And the End of The Age. If you are truly interested in the timing of the Rapture read Van Kampen’s book and Marven Rosenthal’s book The Prewrath Rapture of the Church. Both of these authors added the missing pieces to the End-time puzzle of the approximate timing of the Rapture. Even with this information we will not know the exact timing of the Rapture but only the approximate time. If you cannot afford either of these books, you might to read information on two excellent Prewrath Websites:
By now there may be many other Prewrath websites. The Prewrath interpretation answers questions that none of the other three Rapture interpretations answer.
Antichrist Revealed – chapter 11
1. See Strong’s, #5975 which, along with the KJV, gives the definition of ‘amad as “stand up.” On the other hand, Rashi, one of Israel’s greatest scholars, understood “stand up” to literally mean “stand still” (Judah J. Slotki, Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah [London: Soncino, 1978], p. 101). For this reason, the Midrash, commenting on this verse, says, “The holy one, Blessed be He, said to Michael, ‘You are silent? You do not defend my children'” (Ruth Rabbah I). See other NASB texts where the same Hebrew word is used: 1 Sam. 9:27 (“remain standing”); 2 Sam. 2:28 (“halted”); 2 Kings 4:6 (“stopped”); Judg. 7:21 (“stood in his place”). See also Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, ‘amad (#1637), “stand, remain, endure”; and Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament, 764a.2a. Cf. “stand still, stop, cease moving” (Josh. 10:13; Hab. 3:11; 1 Sam. 9:27; 2 Sam. 2:28; Nah. 2:9); “stop flowing” (2 Kings 4:6), p. 764a, 2d “stop, cease doing” (Gen. 26:35; 30:9; 2 Kings 13:18; Jonah 1:15), p. 764c, 6a.
The verb ‘amad in Daniel 12:1 is ordinarily rendered as “will arise,” “will stand up,” or the like. But such a rendering makes little sense in the context of what immediately follows in that verse: “And there will be a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time; and at that time your people, everyone who is found written in the book, will be rescued.”
In the grammatical order of the Hebrew text, as reflected in most English versions, “the time of distress” (Dan. 12:lb) occurs between Michael’s “arising”(v. la) and the rescue of the people from this great time of distress (v. 2a). In other words, first Michael arises or stands still, next comes an unparalleled time of distress for God’s people (in this case, Israel, because of its Old Testament setting), and then His people are rescued. But why, one wonders, would the “great prince who stands guard over” Israel arise before his people are about to be persecuted, not raising a hand to help them until much later?
The angel who speaks to Daniel in this vision has already told the prophet, “There is no one who stands firmly with me against these forces [the demonic “prince” who empowered Persia] except Michael your prince” (Dan. 10:21; cf. v. 13). In the New Testament we are told that “there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon” (Rev. 12:7). These passages describe the ministry of Michael as a ministry, in part, of restraint. The Hebrew phrase translated “stands firmly . . . against” has the basic meaning of being strong, holding fast, and restraining. In other words, it is Michael who restrains the demonic forces in their unrelenting attacks against Israel. What, then, would be the point of calling attention to Michael’s arising if all he did was to look down on God’s people being tormented?
As demonstrated at the beginning of this note, what most translators translate “will arise” for this particular passage can equally be translated “stand still.” In Joshua 10:13 that same root term is twice translated “stopped” in both the New American Standard Bible and the New International Version—”So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, until the nation avenged themselves of their enemies. Is it not written in the book of Jashar? And the sun stopped in the middle of the sky, and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day” (NASB, emphasis added).
In complete agreement with the noted Jewish rabbi Rashi, this writer takes the position that “stand still” is the correct translation instead of “stand up,” as it seems to be the most appropriate translation for Daniel 12:1. In other words, Michael will not stand up, or arise, in order to defend Israel during the terrible time of persecution that follows immediately, but rather he will “stand still” or “stop” doing what he normally does, which is to stop his activity of restraining the demonic forces of Satan, thereby allowing Antichrist to reveal his true identity to the world and to vent his full fury on God’s people. As soon as Michael stops his work of restraint, the “time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation” will begin. This is why this precise period of time is called the wrath of Satan (Rev. 12:12).
In light of that translation and interpretation of Daniel 12:1, Paul’s meaning in a remarkably similar passage in 2 Thessalonians becomes much clearer: “And you know what restrains him now, so that in his time he may be revealed. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way” (2:6, 7). From the context, we know that the “him” referred to in verse 6 refers back to Antichrist, “the man of lawlessness . .. the son of destruction” (v. 3). Thus, the restrainer in 2 Thessalonians 2:7 (“he who restrains”) must certainly be Michael, the same restrainer Daniel refers to in 10:21 and 12:1.
Daniel’s reference to a “time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time” is almost identical to Jesus’ description of the “great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever shall” (Matt. 24:21), placing the timing of both of these passages at the midpoint of the seventieth week. The Old Testament passage is written for “the woman,” faithful Israel, the New Testament passage, the church, the “rest of her offspring who keep the commandments of God and to the testimony of Jesus.”
Thus, the restrainer will be removed just prior to the revealing of Antichrist, when he “exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God . . .” (2 Thess. 2:4), something he could never do on his own unless the re-strainer is first removed.
2. The Egyptian ruler would be either the pharaoh whom Scripture identifies only as a “new king [who] arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph,” who began the enslavement and persecution of the children of Israel who had come to dwell there under Joseph (Exod. 1:8-12), or the pharaoh who opposed Moses and tried to make the Israelites return to Egypt after the Exodus had already begun (Exod. 4:21). In the first instance, secular history would suggest that pharaoh to be Amenhotep I (ca. 1546-1525) or Thutmoses I (ca. 1525-1508). In the second, he would most probably be Amenhotep II (ca. 1450-1425). In either case, the ancestry of the Egyptian Pharaohs was Hamitic, through Mizraim.
The ruler of Assyria would be Tiglath-pileser III, or his son and successor Shalmaneser V, ‘who reigned from 727 to 722 and is mentioned by name in 2 Kings 17:3-6. His ancestry was Semitic, through Asshur.
The Babylonian Empire ruler is specifically identified as Nebuchadnezzar, the statue’s head of gold (Dan. 2:28, 37, 38). His ancestry was either Semitic, through Arpachshad (see Gen. 10:22), or Hamitic, through Gush and Nimrod.
Neither Scripture nor secular history nor archaeology reveals, for sure, who the Medo-Persian beast empire king may have been (who, in particular, tried to destroy the nation of Israel), but the Book of Esther would seem to allow for that leader to have been Haman. Although he was never crowned, the actual king, Ahasuerus, temporarily delegated virtual kingly authority to Haman by giving him the royal signet ring and authorizing Hainan’s request to exterminate the Jews, whom he had falsely accused of treason (Esth. 3:8-11). Haman is called a descendant of Hammedatha, the Agagite (Esth. 3:1). Agag was king of the Amalekites, who were descendants of Esau (Gen. 36:12), making Haman a Semite. On the other hand, King Ahasuerus (ca. 486-465 , (the name being a Hebrew transliteration of the Persian Khshayar-sha; Xerxes in Greek) was Persian and therefore of Japhetic lineage through Tiras.
The Greek beast empire ruler was either Alexander the Great, as suggested by Daniel 8:5-8 and 11:13, or Antiochus Epiphanes (ca. 175-163 ), as suggested by Daniel 8:9-14 and 11:21-35. Antiochus seems by far to be the more likely candidate because he is so clearly a type of Antichrist. Like Haman, he was not the most powerful leader in Greece, but he was, also like Haman, the greatest enemy of God’s people Israel. His ancestry was Japhetic, through Javan, and the land that he eventually ruled, Syria, had a huge population of Greeks residing there. He was definitely not of Roman lineage.
3. See Allan Massie, The Caesars (New York: Franklin Watts, 1984), p. 171; The Encyclopedia Britannica, “Rome, Ancient, Emperors.”
4. William Shirer, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1960), p. 5. –
May God bless your today and forever.
Rev. Thomas L. Clark – Phil. 3:14