Archive for the ‘2 Thessalonians’ Category

Pretty interesting chapter, this one was. I say interesting, because it kinda popped a bubble of mine that believed the Church was always supposed to move towards unity, rather than division. After all, rifts were only designed to protect the sheep from the wolves, right?

Well, maybe not so much. We see in the text Paul clearly encouraging the Christians in Thessalonica to “keep away from any  brother  who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us,” and he also said “if anyone does not obey what we say in this letter, take note of that person, and  have nothing to do with him, that he may be ashamed.”

See, the object of this (hopefully) short and awkward separation is to actually mold the behavior of the believer who was failing to live in the manner expected of them. So next time you hear someone who is constantly harping on the need for greater unity, to the extent that blantant sins are being ignored, remember that not only is there is place for division among the brothers, but it can also be for the betterment of that individual, as well as for the overall church.

A cursory reading of this chapter would show two prominent themes that could be built upon, namely ecshatology (the doctrine of the end times, or last days) and predestination (which you probably already know is a hobby horse of mine), but what really caught my attention in the middle of all of it was the reference to Jesus “kill[ing] with the breath of his mouth” the Lawless One. We could debate the identity and meaning of this “Lawless One,” but we’ll not do that here.

As I was reading this, I was caught offguard by the shock and violence of the idea of Jesus killing someone. I’ve grown so accustomed to grace and mercy that I hadn’t thought about Jesus’ wrath and vengence. God, yes. Of course. But Jesus? Well, we tend to think that Jesus is somewhat removed from the Old Testament God that destroyed millions of men, women, and kids in a global flood.

Yesterday a good friend of mine pointed out Number 25:5-9 to me, which reads “And Moses said to  the judges of Israel, ‘Each of you kill those of his men who have yoked themselves to Baal of Peor.’ And behold, one of the people of Israel came and brought a Midianite woman to his family, in the sight of Moses and in the sight of the whole congregation of the people of Israel, while they were  weeping in the entrance of the tent of meeting. When Phinehas  the son of Eleazar, son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he rose and left the congregation and took a spear in his hand and went after the man of Israel into the chamber and pierced both of them, the man of Israel and the woman through her belly. Thus the plague on the people of Israel was stopped. Nevertheless,  those who died by the plague were twenty-four thousand.”

That’s brutal. I mean, really brutal. But it serves to show us just how much God hates sin. It gives us a glimpse at the holy fury of a righteous God against rebellious sinners. I don’t know about you, but this reminder that God has anger and wrath causes me to appreciate His saving me even more. It causes me to worship Jesus, who instead of killing me died in my place. It makes me thankful for the Spirit, who indwells me even now as a still-fallen man.

But it also causes me to fear for the unbeliever, because for all those who have refused to embrace the Truth and be saved, God promises to bring to them one of two things: grace or wrath. It makes me want to get out there and lovingly share the Gospel, pleading with God to have more mercy on more sinners. It causes me to cry over my children, begging God to save them.

Wrath is coming. Sin will be punished. There’s something wrong if this doesn’t stir us to action on behalf of those around us.

So I’m something of a Coldplay fan. Nothing extreme, mind you. I don’t have all of their albums. I don’t know the names of the individuals who comprise the band. I don’t even know where they’re from. Ok, so maybe I’m not really a fan, haha! But I enjoy playing”The Scientist”on the piano. A simple yet powerful song, the chorus pounds out this well-known phrase, “nobody said it was easy.”

Nobody said it was easy. Isn’t it odd how much we as Christians seem to think that part of our salvation should include living on easy street until the day comes that we can die peacefully and painlessly in our beds and go be with Jesus? And yet…we never see such promises in Scripture. In fact, in this second letter to the saints in Thessalonica (written by Paul, Timothy, and Silvanus) Paul says that God will “…grant relief to you who are afflicted.”

Think about that for a sec. It’s easy to blaze through that and think to  ourselves, “Whoo-hoo, no more affliction!” yet that’s not what Paul said. He said that God will grant relief to those afflicted. In other words, don’t doubt that affliction’s coming. It is. But also trust this: God won’t let it go but for so long. In some cases such as Job’s, the affliction may be for a short duration. Or it could be like Paul, who struggled daily with that unknown thorn in his flesh. Yes, he asked God to remove it, but God’s plan was to prove to Paul that His grace was sufficient to get Paul through the hardest of times.

So yeah…hard times will come. Life will have it’s downs, as well as ups. Chaos will ensue, but remember that the God who made you and saved you is still with you, and relief is on the way.