Every day in my internet search for information on what’s going on I’m bumping into boatloads of comments by people who think this world has been gripped by some awful global insanity. More people are even using words like “sinister” and “evil” to describe it too.
But why sinister and evil? Because the people who are supposed to be looking after us seem unconcerned and totally oblivious to our growing helplessness and despair. So these authorities are either blind and stupid, or they really don’t care. Either way it gives us valid cause for believing that evil is real, and it’s winning.
So why would Jesus, if he truly is what Philippians 2:9-11 describes him as, allow this to happen? In verse 9, “God exalted him to the highest place” so that, verse 11, “every tongue confesses that Jesus Christ is Lord,” the boss, the one who’s been given total authority over everything that happens on this planet (Matthew 28:18). So, why, with all this power at his disposal, doesn’t he put a stop to evil, and knock these stupid, uncaring leaders of ours off their arrogant perches?
Well, one encouraging note is that if evil goes too far and threatens to totally consume us – like it did in Noah’s time when “every inclination of the thoughts of (the human) heart was only evil all the time” (Genesis 6:5) – the Lord did put a stop to it. So there’s a limit to what God allows evil to do, just as he limited what the Devil could do to Job (Job 2:4-6).
We also hear a lot in Scripture about a Day of the Lord, a time of “God’s judgment,” 2 Thessalonians 1:5, when God, in verse 6, “will pay back trouble to those who trouble you.” And in verse 7, “This (pay back) will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels.” So, just as predicted (in Psalm 110:1) God makes sure Jesus wins, and all enemies of his (and ours) will be dumped at Jesus’ feet as mere rubble.
Which is all very encouraging to know, that at some time in the future all evil will be dealt with and justice will be done. But until that time God allows evil to hone its tactics and practice its deceit on us humans.
But why would God do that? Because the Devil really thinks he can get away with it, so he keeps developing his evil war machine behind the scenes in readiness one day for openly “opposing and exalting himself over everything that is called God…(even) proclaiming himself to be God,” 2 Thessalonians 2:4.
In the meantime God allows this “secret power of lawlessness,” verse 7, to think he’s being very clever keeping his evil plans “under wraps” by restraining evil from being too noticeable (the second part of verse 7). This way the Devil can continue to secretly develop his ultimate plan to replace God. And God allows the Devil to think he’s getting away with it.
Why? Because the time then comes – the “proper” or appropriate time of God’s choosing (verse 6) – when God rips back the curtain to reveal all (verses 3, 6 and 8). And why at this specific time? Because the Devil has “all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders” and “every sort of evil” ready to unleash on humanity. Now we get to see what the Devil’s really been up to, and there’s no hiding it anymore. It’s out in the open so now we see evil for what it really is and what its aim is.
And God allows the Devil to unleash his fury too, to “deceive those who are perishing.” Why? “Because they refused to love the truth and so be saved,” verse 10. God even “sends them a powerful delusion so they believe the lie” too, verse 11. So all the people who “delighted in wickedness,” verse 12 – who preferred the ways of evil over God’s ways and allowed themselves to believe lies – get to experience evil in its full and dreadful reality.
For now God allows the Devil to think he’s winning, and for those who love evil to think they’re winning too, but the day is coming when “the Lord will overthrow” and “destroy evil by the splendour of his coming,” verse 8. And then there’ll be no doubting that “Jesus is Lord.”