“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. The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness”
(2 Thessalonians 2:8-12).
Not only do I obsess over the identity of “the man of lawlessness,” but also I obsess over his revealing. When was he revealed? Or perhaps more appropriately, when will he be revealed? Did it happen in the first century? The fourth century? Will it happen next week? At the end of time?
And it is difficult not to get carried away talking about this league with Satan. Here’s a topic I can chew on for a while – counterfeit miracles. Counterfeit miracles? Now just how does that work? I don’t know, but what’s more, there are counterfeit signs and wonders, too.
Suddenly I have this vision of Steve Martin in his bedazzled jacket!
Are you ready for a miracle? I’m ready as I can be!
It starts making sense when I consider those especially susceptible to the deception of the counterfeits have refused to love the truth. They have rejected salvation. That works, doesn’t it? They reject God, and so they are easily duped by some phony spectacle sent by Satan. But wait, here’s where it gets really confusing. Satan doesn’t send the delusion. So where does the delusion originate? God. That’s right; it is God who sends the powerful delusion. What’s up with that? I guess the best way for me to make sense of it is to understand God is not going to force Himself on anyone. If someone rejects Him, it is not out of character for God to give him what he wants. God can do that, even if it doesn’t make complete sense to me.
After all, God is God. And what’s more, I am not.
But there is something in this passage easy to miss as I pore over the words, looking for hidden clues about the lawless man’s identity and exposure. Something easy to miss as I wrestle with understanding the deep mysteries of God’s working through powerful delusions. It’s the power of the Lord Jesus. No matter how lost we get in the details of this most difficult to interpret passage, the simple truth is – God wins. The Lord Jesus is victorious. And how does the Lord Jesus win? What is the secret of His power? The Lord Jesus will overthrow the lawless man with “the breath of His mouth.” Imagine the power! I guess this shouldn’t be such a surprise to someone who believes that with His very breath God spoke the universe into existence and breathed life into mankind.
But the more I get wrapped up in all the theological arguing and the hermeneutical wrangling in this passage the more I become impressed with myself and my ability to think and reason and study and bring forth conclusions. And the best antidote that I know for being impressed with myself – my study, my arguments, and even my faith is seeing God afresh. And that’s what happens when I read those simple words about God’s breath. I realize I’m not so impressive after all. God is. And it’s when I begin to grasp that the Lord Jesus wins and He does so by the breath of His mouth that I realize the best things I can do are pray for His coming, prepare for His coming, and humble myself before the Almighty God.