Pastor’s Pen 12-9-2020
The Hope of Destruction
Preparing for our message this Sunday, I was doing an in-depth study of the fifth chapter of Paul’s letter to the Thessalonian church. The church at Thessalonica had been experiencing persecution and yet thriving in the midst of it, and Paul in his final paragraphs of that first letter offers them this encouraging little spirit-boost:
1 Thes 5:1-4
Now on the topic of times and seasons, brothers and sisters, you have no need for anything to be written to you. 2 For you know quite well that the day of the Lord will come in the same way as a thief in the night. 3 Now when they are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction comes on them, like labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will surely not escape.
My immediate thought was: “Are we supposed to be encouraged by the destruction of the non-believers at judgement? That doesn’t seem very Christ-like, Paul!” But then my train of thought derailed mightily as a flood of scriptures came rolling through my brain-space countering my intuitive knee-jerk reaction. I had to laugh, as the thought came: Not Christlike? Who will be administering that judgement, Ben?
1 Tim 4:1 NASB
I solemnly exhort you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom:
Rom 2:16 NASB
16 on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of mankind through Christ Jesus.
John 5:22-23 NASB
22 For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son, 23 so that all will honor the Son just as they honor the Father. The one who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.
My impression of Jesus lamenting-the-loss was largely, I suspect, framed up on our modern rendition of Jesus as a sort of Mr. Rogers. But the Lamb of God is also the Lion of Judah. Will Jesus be mourning and lamenting at Judgement? I suspect not. That day will be a celebration of cosmic justice, and that is encouraging! Are you frustrated as you look around this earth and see the cheats and liars, the cruel, the manipulators, deceivers, charlatans, the wicked power-brokers, and vile tyrants “getting away with it”? Well, be encouraged… they aren’t getting away with it. Paul told a battered church body confronting daily persecution to be encouraged that judgment will catch the wicked… “they will surely not escape.” Aren’t you glad?
If you’re still not sure that we should be encouraged by that impending destruction, if you think it doesn’t seem “nice” even if Paul says so and Jesus is performing it, know that Peter celebrates it as well (2 Pet 3). or try this one: all the Martyrs below the alter in heaven are depicted in Revelation as crying out to God to hurry up and bring it about (Rev 6:9-11). It is not wrong for us to join them in that prayer. Judgement and destruction are coming for the sons-of-darkness. Be encouraged and be steadfast in the light (1 Thes 5:1-11).