The Rise of Lawlessness

By Larry Cockerham

State Police Commissioner Ken Moroney said this past week that the recent riots had destroyed the festive season for the residents of Sydney, Australia's largest city. The disturbances were described as some of the worst outbreaks in their history. Fierce gangs numbering up to 5000 young white men brawled with police along with groups whom they believed to be of Arab descent.1

Last year riots broke out in the Aborigine area of Sydney after the death of a young boy who had been allegedly chased by police. Up to this time, these riots had been described as the worst in the city"s history.2

Some believe that tensions have been rising in Australia due to the 9/11 attacks and October 2002 bombings in Bali that killed 88 Australians.3

The Rioting In Recent Months

In November rioting in France had spread to as many as 300 towns, which soon spilled over into the neighboring countries of Belgium and Germany. About 4,700 vehicles were burned since the rioting began with 1,200 suspects detained. One 61-year-old man was beaten to death while trying to extinguish a trash can fire.4

In October riots broke out in Ohio when neo-nazi groups threatened to march against "black crime" in north Toledo. The violence started when residents ventilated their anger on police after throwing rocks at the Nazi marchers. Toledo Mayor Jack Ford, who had declared a state of emergency, blamed the violence on gang members in the community.5

In September, after Hurricane Katrina left levees broken and the city of New Orleans flooded, looting became widespread in the wake of America's deadliest natural disaster. Looters used garbage cans and even inflatable mattresses to float away with groceries, jeans, tennis shoes, TV sets, and even weapons. Mayor Ray Nagin reported that the looting was so appalling that halting the thieves became their main concern.6

Various reasons for the recent rioting have been offered; such as, multiculturalism, poverty, unemployment, low-paying jobs, lack of parental control, and gang violence; but no matter what the reason, the Bible predicts that the spirit of lawlessness will undoubtedly increase as the closing stages of this dispensation draws near.

The Revelation of Lawlessness

Jesus stated: "Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold" (Matthew 24:12, NIV). Young women reported missing and children being molested are a daily occurrence. The recent epidemic of female teachers raping their young male students is another example of the evil lurking in our public school systems. Have you thought about taking a cruise lately? Over 14 people have gone missing from cruise ships in the last two years, the latest only last weekend.7

Jesus declared, "as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man" (Matt. 24:37, NIV). There are many similarities to our current day with the period prior to the Flood. Genesis 6:11 states: "the earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence." This certainly depicts our modern day era of the 2lst century. The Bible describes man accurately: "And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually" (Gen. 6:5).

The Restrainer of Lawlessness

Paul warns "the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of His mouth and destroy by the splendor of His coming" (2 Thess. 2:7-8, NIV).

Who or what is holding back the forces of evil in the world today? Many Bible students identify this person as the Holy Spirit of God. God"s Spirit is working today through the church to restrain evil and bring about God"s purposes in the world. William McDonald informs us that "as early as Genesis 6:3, the Holy Spirit is spoken of in connection with the restraint of evil."8 However when the Lord Raptures the church, the restraining work of the Holy Spirit will end. Then Satan and his dominions will be given permission to bring death and destruction on planet earth.

People will continue to be saved during the Tribulation by the leading of the Holy Spirit, but it is the Spirit who is hindering Satan"s program of evil in the world today and the rise of Antichrist. In the Old Testament God"s Spirit worked "with" the believer, but after Pentecost the Holy Spirit now abides forever "in" the believer (John 14:16-17). The Spirit who permanently indwells the church as well as the individual believer will be removed at the Rapture. Those saints who are saved during the Tribulation will not be part of the church, but subjects of the millennial kingdom.

The Final Result of Lawlessness

The situation today will, without a doubt, continue to worsen until the Lord finally calls His church home. Then the "man of lawlessness" (2 Thess. 2:3, NIV) will be revealed, who is none other than the Beast (Rev. 13:1) or Antichrist (1 John 2:18, 22). The final result of the mystery of iniquity, or "lawlessness" (NIV), will produce a false Christ who will rule over a false kingdom. He will be Satan's masterpiece and ultimate deception, yet he will meet an ignoble end, his doom sealed in the lake of fire (Rev. 19:20; 20:10). Before this happens he will lead millions to their destruction.

The possibility of widespread anarchy is ripening in America and if another devastating terrorist attack or natural disaster occurs the possibility of chaos could quickly break forth. The spirit of lawlessness lies even now just beneath the surface waiting for the right moment to raise its ugly head. It continues to reveal itself in our homes, in our public life, and even in the midst of our churches.

Paul cautioned: "This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come" (2 Tim. 3:1). He further affirms that, "evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived" (2 Tim. 3:13). There are wicked men who are even now eagerly waiting for opportunities to commit their malicious deeds.

The potential for hostility to occur again in the near future is certain, as this seems to be the precedent in today's violent culture. It is ironic that millions of members in our churches today remain entirely ignorant of Bible prophecies and the events that are soon to be played out. The ongoing rise of lawlessness is just one more sign that the return of Christ is nearer than ever before.

About the Author:
Larry Cockerham is pastor of a Southern Baptist church in the Southeastern United States. He has a Bachelor of Theology degree from Andersonville Seminary in Camilla, Georgia, and is presently working on an ebook about the Book of Revelation. His first book was Revelation: Prophetic Addresses to the Seven Churches written in 1995. He also is editor of Prophecy Forum Newsletter, a monthly ezine containing Bible studies, news headlines, and a column by Jerry Golden. Please visit his website at









8William MacDonald, Believer"s Bible Commentary (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1995), 2054.