“Inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God”
My thoughts today arose largely from the challenging words of Paul in the first two chapters of his second letter to the Thessalonians. Let us appreciate that when the lessons in God’s word are particularly challenging to us and we struggle to clearly discern their meaning – that this is part of God’s wisdom to make His word food for our whole lifetime. Our foundation ‘step’ is to read the whole context and grasp as clearly as we can the flow of the reasoning.
This particular letter of Paul starts on a very encouraging note; he says,
“We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing” (verse 3).
Paul tells them he is able to
“boast about you in the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith”
“in the afflictions that you are enduring” (verse 4).
Paul then describes the utter drama of the time (how soon now?)
“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” (verses 7,8).
What is it to
“not know God”?
It is different to saying he does not exist! We prove we know him – by our actions! John wrote,
“Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love” (1 John 4:8).
Back in Thessalonians 2 Paul writes of “the mystery of lawlessness” (verse 7). Why is it a mystery? My particular line of thought is that “lawlessness” is natural to human nature – and how it is increasing today! I suggest it is a mystery because men are more conscious than ever in our days of the wonders of the miracle of creation – yet they are trying harder than ever to believe there is no Creator; I recall what Jesus said, when asked
“what is the sign of your coming?”
“because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold” (Matthew 24:3,12)
– although most may still claim to believe!
Today we wait with heart-felt awe, for what could be very soon – “Jesus revealed from heaven” and the awesome actions Paul describes in today’s second chapter take place! There will be a particular
“lawless one … whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming” (verse 8).
More than ever, as we sense with awed hearts what is coming on our world, let us make sure we “know God” in the fullest sense.