This passage seems to be full of riddles and images that are hard to comprehend. Even St. Augustine was known to have said something along the lines of “I don’t get it.” Paul is writing this second letter because he needs to clear up a misunderstanding about Jesus’ return. “Don’t be so easily shaken or alarmed by those who say that the day of the Lord has already begun. Don’t believe them, even if they claim to have had a spiritual vision, a revelation, or a letter supposedly from us.”
Apparently, the Thessalonians had an understanding of what Paul was referring to when he said, “the day of the Lord.” He doesn’t offer any sort of explanation here for us. But he does break into a story to give some more clarity. We meet the two players: the man of lawlessness and Jesus. We know Jesus is always dependable, and Paul wanted to make sure the Thessalonians were clear on that.
Over the years, many have relied on these descriptions to explain what was happening. But as bad as some of these kings and rulers were, they were not “the” man of lawlessness that is described here. Similarities aside, I’m afraid that when the man of lawlessness arrives, we may not even recognize him as all that bad.
What! How can I say that? This may not be the popular thing to say, but it is my reflection. There are so many broken parts in our world right now that seem to be “accepted.” What years ago would have been taboo or at least kept behind closed doors is now out in the open. There is so much hate and misunderstanding around us these days. Our time “cooped” up during the pandemic has left us all a little less community-minded. We’ve forgotten our basic manners in some respects.
I’ve even heard of people who believe they are God, or at least equal to the creator. The Biblical view would say that is false, and yet the “spiritual” people will press their agenda hard. God has created us in his image, but that doesn’t mean we’re equal to him, or even God himself. Faith-based these days does not always mean faith in Jesus, the one true way.
Paul has taken it upon himself to make sure his readers are clear the role that good and evil play in this world. He hints at the final victory we read about in Revelation. We might even say that this man of lawlessness is already at work in the world. Up to now, evil is being restrained from total take over, but according to this, that day will come. “Then the man of lawlessness will be revealed, but the Lord Jesus will slay him with the breath of his mouth and destroy him by the splendor of his coming.”
What do we do with this information? We need to be prepared to stand strong during the rebellion to come. If it doesn’t come during our lifetime, we can be confident that our example will help lead the way for generations to come. That’s the kind of legacy I want to leave. A legacy of faith that Jesus is coming!
We want to be sure we’re not on the road of destruction Paul talks about. It’s those folks who will need to fear being caught up in the biggest deception of all. Paul, speaking of the evil one, says, “He will use every kind of evil deception to fool those on their way to destruction, because they refuse to love and accept the truth that would save them.”
Let’s pray … Lord, I know you are coming again. What I don’t know is if I’ll be around to see it from here or from there. I am well aware of how we can cycle hot and cold in our faith from time to time. Help me to stay on fire with my faith burning inside like a raging fire. I know you have called me to this purpose, and I want to be my best for you. May I trust you alone. In Jesus’ name. Amen.