2 Thessalonians 2:8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will destroy with the breath of his mouth, annihilating him by the manifestation of his coming. 9 The coming of the lawless one is apparent in the working of Satan, who uses all power, signs, lying wonders, 10 and every kind of wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11 For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion, leading them to believe what is false, 12 so that all who have not believed the truth but took pleasure in unrighteousness will be condemned.
Paul is writing to the church in Thessalonika about a “lawless one” whom he fears will deceive believers. V.9 indicates Paul’s belief that Satan “who uses all power, signs, lying wonders, and every kind of wicked deception” is behind the work of this lawless one (whom I suspect is an actual human being living at the time of this writing). Satan is known throughout scripture as one who deceives people. And yet v.11 tells us that God himself is also a deceiver who sends to those who reject the truth of Jesus “a powerful delusion, leading them to believe what is false” such that they will ultimately be condemned at the day of judgment. This description of God connects for me with the story in Exodus chapter 9 in which God “hardened Pharaoh’s heart” so that he would not let the Hebrews go and would suffer the plagues of God – including the massacre of all first-born children and animals in Egypt.
These portions of scripture resist the popular theology which says, “God is love” – as if God is ONLY love. I understand that is who we WANT God to be, but again God defies our attempts to domesticate him into a deity which is palatable to the modern believer, conforming to our modern sensibilities. And so once again I find myself acknowledging that God is God and I am not, which means I am compelled to accept all of who God is, not just the parts I like.
Lord have mercy. Amen.