Today we read two dramatic passages in Scripture – in Joel and Thessalonians. It is not easy to fit together some of the pieces they present to us about the last days of human rule. It is clear the return of Christ will be the most incredible event the world has ever witnessed, when “the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, (put) away from the presence of the Lord and the glory of his might, when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marvelled at among all who have believed” (2 Thessalonians 1:7-10). Let us be among those “who have believed”.
What awe the experience of that time will create in our hearts! It is clear from the next chapter that there has to be a particular “lawless one” (AV, ‘man of sin’) “whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the brightness of his coming” (verse 8). This “lawless one” has been responsible for “false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refuse to love the truth and so be saved. Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (verses 9-12).
This ‘lawless one’ is associated with a false religion and deceives people attracting them by encouraging “unrighteousness”. When Jesus came the first time, the religious leaders all had a wrong understanding of the prophets, causing them to fail to recognize their Messiah. As God’s judgements unfold it will become clear to those who know God’s word what the signs mean and how they will be fulfilled. What is vital is that we take no “pleasure in unrighteousness”.
Looking at Joel; he tells us of the drama of that day when “the earth quakes … the sun and the moon are darkened, and the stars withdraw their shining. The LORD utters his voice … he who executes his word is powerful. For the day of the LORD is great and very awesome; who can endure it?” (2:10,11). Yes, who will endure it? The answer is – those whose “faith is growing abundantly” (2 Thessalonians 1:3).