Justice of God – 1 Thessalonians 1:5-10

God Will Not Withhold His Wrath Forever

5 All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering. 6 God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you 7 and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. 8 He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might 10 on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you.

Selected for Suffering

All who have accepted Christ as Lord and Savior will experience suffering.  No student is above his teacher, and we are not above Jesus Christ in this regard.  We should take heart and rejoice in our sufferings, and decide to consider them as an indication that we are truly God’s people:

2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

Woeful Wrath

Paul says something interesting here.  He indicates that God will pay back trouble to those who trouble us.  One of the most difficult things to do as a Christian is to bear up under the abuse of others. A “trick” that we can employ to help us with this is to remember that God will pay back those who trouble us.  This does not mean that we wish harm to come to others; it merely means that we can rest in knowing that God is Just and will punish the wicked.

In order to use this effectively, we must see through God’s lens of eternity and be satisfied with His Justice, resting in the outcome of eternity.  Let us take a step back, and with the revealed knowledge of what God will do (through examining eschatological [end-times] prophecy) understand that from God’s perspective, everything is already accomplished.  This is how God was and is able to endure the disobedience of man – He was able to see Christ crucified and resurrected before the beginning of the universe, as though it had already occurred.

We too should look at the wrath of God as already having been poured out upon those who refuse to believe.  In God’s eyes, as in ours, we should see that the punishment of justice has already occurred.  Those who wronged us but accepted Christ have their sins forgiven in Christ, so justice has been served – Christ paid for it with His holy, perfect, sinless blood, as He did ours.  Justice is served.  For those who refused the free gift of salvation, they are already serving their sentence in the lake of fire.  Justice is served.  Either way, justice has been served, and we can rest in the Holy Justice of God to let these things go so that no root of bitterness will grow in our hearts.

Ruler Revealed

All of this will occur when Jesus Christ is revealed as the Lion of Judah .  He first came as a lamb.  He now returns as the Lion to gather His elect and bring wrath to the unbelievers.  Jesus will be unveiled and the unseen will become seen.  Every knee shall bow, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, whether they bow willingly or grudgingly.  We will know and be fully known.  What a wonderful and dreadful day that will be!

Destruction of the Disobedient

God will not withhold His wrath and anger forever.  He does not destroy us now because He would like to see as many that would believe would be saved and to display His mercy.  Those that don’t believe will face absolute destruction with the second death – spiritual death (the eternal separation from God in the lake of fire).  They will be tormented for all eternity because they refused to love the truth.  That should sober up every Christian when we think about it and propel us into action so that the message of the Gospel is delivered to all the world.

And when we fail in that, or are unable because the devil has complete control over a region, God will still reveal Himself to people through visions and dreams.  Many in the Middle East, where they are under complete Shariah law, are being reached through this method even today.  Because of this, many are coming to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.  Darkness has fallen there, and no one can work but God alone.  Darkness is falling across the entire world.  Places where freedom once reigned and Christianity once flourished and thrived are now being choked out by oppressive governments and their subjected peoples who sympathize with their government’s position.  Take Heart!  Christ has overcome the world!

Glorified by God

And when Jesus arrives, those who found life through salvation of sin in Jesus Christ will be with Him as He is glorified.  We will be like Him.  And we will marvel in His glory from that time throughout all eternity, praising and glorifying Him forever and ever.

Suffering a little now seems insignificant when we consider the eternal glory of God and being in His presence.  Endure the trials before you, knowing that you will be reunited with your Savior in joy and celebration for all eternity.  The pain you suffer now is great, but it is momentary in light of eternity.  Pray that God would comfort you through it, so that you would endure your suffering in such a way that it would bring glory to His name.

A Qualifying Question

Let’s ask ourselves a question:  Are we bearing up under our suffering so that God will be glorified, as He seeks to prepare us for the time when we will be with Him?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, I greatly look forward to the return of Jesus Christ as the Lion of Judah.  Help me to be prepared so that when He returns, I will be ready and found doing what I have been told to do.  Give me peace as I suffer in my trials, and give me Your eternal perspective on all things that I may be able to look beyond the present to see everything in the lens of eternity.  May this viewpoint bring me comfort and help me to grow in grace and righteousness.  Comfort me in my pain.  It seems as though it will last forever, but You have promised that when I am with You in heaven, there will be no more pain and no more tears.  I greatly look forward to that day.  Blessed be Your Name, Lord God Almighty!  Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?

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