2 Thessalonians 1:1-12
Our Just and Vindicating God
It is said that well over 90% of Americans believe in God or some higher power. So what? A mere sampling of history indicates as much. Man was created in God’s image, so it is only natural that he should seek after God. But because man shattered that image through sin, he never seeks the true God but one of his own making. This is the plain teaching of Romans 1:18-32. Today, we are confronted with a teaching about the true God that many even in our churches find uncomfortable. It is the sure and unavoidable teaching that must accompany any instruction about our Lord’s Second Coming, and that is his coming judgment upon the wicked, “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.” This judgment is our Lord’s righteous indignation upon those who did not call upon his name, and so shall never see his face for all eternity. It is truly a horrifying portrait Paul paints, and it is full of integrity and truth to anyone with a moral sense and who has experienced the saving grace of God in Christ Jesus.
The Thessalonian believers were experiencing persecution on all sides (1 Thessalonians 2:13-3:5), but it was only strengthening them such that their endurance was known abroad. Moreover, Paul considers this affliction which the Thessalonians were enduring as evidence of “the righteous judgment of God” both in that the believers were afflicted—as is necessary as followers of Jesus who must take up the cross—and as evidence of the storing up of the wrath of God coming upon sinful and wicked man when the Lord returns in “flaming fire.” Many struggle with this—this biblical teaching of God’s wrath poured out on the world at his Son’s coming. And I certainly don’t view God’s wrath as similar to the uncontrollable and passion-laden wrath we see in sinful men; but I likewise don’t appreciate those who turn God’s wrath into some mechanical, automatic act whereby He satisfies His justice—whether He wants to or not.
That God’s wrath is even now being revealed from heaven (Romans 1:18) and shall one day be revealed in all of its might and furor is plainly taught in Scripture. He comes with vengeance and all the righteous indignation sinful man deserves. He comes to vindicate God’s honor and those who have borne the insults and miseries of the world for His name’s sake proving that they were his chosen ones all along. Thus, let us ever pray that He make us worthy of his calling that we may share his glory when he returns.