And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming. The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. ~2 Thess. 2:8-12
I love to think about the return of the Lord Jesus for His people; the “great and terrible day of the Lord” that the Old Testament prophets reference so often. Unfortunately, I usually tend to fall into the idea that it will be an epic battle between two, equally skilled opponents rather than the Lord of all creation dispensing justice over a created being. It’s the “arch-enemy” approach to spiritual battles; I project my own feelings of helplessness at the rapid expansion of evil/injustice onto the Father. It is difficult for my finite, human mind to grasp that God is restraining Himself as He has from the fall of man until the appointed time has come. I forget that just because I have to war against the enemy of our souls, He does not. He is the King, sitting on the circle of the earth, the heavens His throne, the earth His footstool, intimately bound up in our struggles, joys, and pains, but unshaken and unmoved from His Lordship by any scheme of the evil one.
Perhaps no passage drives home the point that God is in an entirely different league than the devil than 2 Thessalonians 2. Paul is hastening to correct wrong theology in the church that the return of the Lord had already taken place. Sadly, this corrupted theology still exists in July, 2011.
Notice what Paul says in verse 12 of 2 Thessalonians 2–God will send unrighteous and unrepentant men a strong delusion that they would belive the flashy signs-and-wonders-based deception Satan will bring with him when anti-Christ comes to power. God sends a delusion? But I thought that He was not willing that any should perish…? How can a loving God trick people into believing the lie of the devil and still be a loving God? Surely He is a tyrant after all.
Our argument would work except that we forget that the Father sees and knows the hearts of all men. Scripture tells us in John 2:25 that Jesus did not need anyone to tell Him what was in the hearts of men because He already knew what was in each person; the Holy Spirit opened their hearts to Him and He walked in that wisdom. The God who searches and knows the hearts of man is not evil when He sends delusions to those who have made up in their minds to reject Him. This is not a predestination issue of, “God knows who He wants and everyone else has no choice in the matter.” Rather, this is a free will issue–God knows who will choose Him and who will love Him from the beginning, and He gives to everyone what is already in their hearts.
What amazes me most about what Paul says here is how easily God consumes His enemies. We know that Jesus will fight with the sword of His word according to Revelation 19:5. However, Paul says here that Jesus will destroy the lawless one with the breath of His mouth and brightness of His coming. He doesn’t even have to speak; His Presence is enough. By simply existing and breathing He defeats His enemies.
What has amazed me is the realization that God fighting through breath is not a minority image in the Bible. It appears through the Old Testament in Job 4:9; Psalm 18:8; Isaiah 11:4, 30:33, among others.
This is the God you worship–the One who is, even now, straining from the courts of Heaven to hear your voice. He is the all-powerful, almighty God. His ways are perfect and His thoughts are true. You have no reason to fear when it seems that evil is triumphing–you can fight with the peace in your heart that your Father is without equal and will order your steps when you submit your ways to Him.