Tuesday: Suffering as a Sign of the End

Second Thessalonians 1:5-10 in the Greek has an Old Testament feel (the Bible of most New Testament Christians was the Septuagint, a pre-Christian Greek translation of the Old Testament).

Image © Krieg Barrie from GoodSalt.com

Second Thessalonians exhibits many more references to the Old Testament than does 1 Thessalonians.

Read 2 Thessalonians 1:5, 6. What is Paul saying? What promises are found in there?

The word evidence (NIV) or token (KJV) means “proof” or “plain indication” of something. What does the persecution of Christians (vs. 4) prove? It is certainly not evidence of God’s judgment against His people. To the contrary, it is a pointer to the future judgment, in which the people of God are vindicated and those who persecuted them receive the same kind of experience they inflicted on others.

There is a message here for us. Violence begets violence, and those who use violence against others have reason to fear for the future. God’s judgment sets things right. Those who persecute the people of God will one day face the justice of God. But those who experience injustice on account of their faith today can look with confidence to God’s future judgment. On that day, it will be evident to all that they were the objects of God’s favor.

The New Testament encourages believers to exhibit grace, mercy, and forgiveness toward others. But when these actions are rebuffed and repaid with curses, blows, and confinement, it is encouraging to know that injustice will not last forever. Thus, the saints of God are invited to have patience (see also Rev. 14:12).

In 2 Thessalonians 1:5, 6, therefore, Paul reminds the persecuted Thessalonians that the “righteous judgment of God” in the future will demonstrate His approval of them in the present. More than this, their patience and faith in the face of trial validates that God has chosen them. In this way Christian suffering can be the basis for rejoicing (1 Thess. 1:6, 7). It is real-life evidence of whose side we will be on when Jesus comes.

Verse 5 shows the righteous judgment of God in His approval of the Thessalonians. Verse 6 shows it in the condemnation and destruction of their persecutors. In both cases the judgment is the end-time outcome of present conduct.

Have you been unfairly victimized, with the perpetrators receiving no apparent punishment for their actions? If so, what comfort can you take in the promises of God’s judgment? Or look at it this way: have you treated people badly, unfairly, and have gotten away with it (at least so far)? If so, how do you view the promises of God’s end-time judgment?



Tuesday: Suffering as a Sign of the End — 6 Comments

  1. Today's lesson covers God's justice. As we consider how He will do this in the end, I believe it is important to recall that Jesus said, "vengeance is mine," How will those who have been hurt by others find the most satisfaction in the end? Will it be by seeing their enemies destroyed at the end? Or will it be from a reparation of the break? From mending the emotional wounds that sin and persecution and victimization have brought? Will it be from sitting down to talk to the one who murdered or raped or beat or talked mean against us? Will it be from sitting there with that person and Jesus and hearing their side of the story - how their life had led them to that place, how God then led them to repentance, and how they are sorry for hurting us. Will not the most satisfying outcome for the victim or the persecuted to see a restored and beautiful person in front of them who is fast becoming their new dear friend?! Jesus said for us to love our enemies as our selves. Who holds a closer spot in our hearts than those who have mistreated us unfairly, hence the deep pain people feel at mistreatment. Redemptive disciple is the answer! The vengeance of God that destroys the sin and the break in people that Satan has crafted is the answer. For God so loved the world that He sent his only Son that whosoever believeth in him shall not perish but have eternal life. He doesn't want anyone to perish. Unfortunately some will choose that end of eternal destruction, in love, God knows that they would be miserable in a place without sin, so along with the deadly rot of sin, they will have to be destroyed.

    • The challenge is to know that your case is the right one even when the enemy paints a bad picture of you in front of your neighbors, your kids, and even your church, you feel like you need to vindicate yourself but we must wait. God has a plan that will put an end to all the insinuations and silence the accuser of the brethren forever. Teach me Lord how to wait!

    • Devon, that means we will have to totally depend on Christ, and won't it be easier if we are already having a daily relationship with Christ before the suffering comes? I don't believe that the Seventh-day-Adventist who is a baby in Christ will collapse, just because he has not had time to be grounded in his faith as some of us have. We are told that Christ can save to the uttermost those who turn to Him, and those who return are included, as exemplified by many prominent characters in the Bible. I am no theologian, but I do look at myself as a nail on the wall to hold the picture of Jesus. Amen!

  2. Blessed are those who are persecuted in my names sake for theirs is the kindom of heaven......Matthew 5:10-12 our lord Jesus puts it clear, but be reminded you re not alone, "I am with you always" (Matthew 28:20 NKJV).

  3. Thank you, Sharon, for that beautiful picture of restored relationships in heaven.

    I believe that's what salvation is all about - to restore our relationship with God, which was broken by sin, and to restore loving relationships with each other to the level that God had planned in the beginning.


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