We inherited a Children’s Story Bible after the birth of our daughter, and I spent some time looking at the illustrations. If the book can be trusted, God is a really nice guy. He hugs baby lambs. He smiles at bystanders during local parades. He hosts dinner parties with close friends and takes them fishing. He walks around with giraffes in a beautiful garden. He’s friends with Daniel and Paul and a wee man named Zacchaeus. I continued flipping pages in search of an illustration about the gnashing of teeth during the judgment of man, but they left that one out.
- Are you willing to accept the fullness of God’s character? Why or why not?
READ THE WORD: 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10 (ESV)
5 This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering— 6 since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, 7 and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels 8 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. 9 They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, 10 when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed.
- Eternal Destruction. Repay with affliction. In flaming fire. Mighty angels. Inflicting vengeance. What do these words taken from this passage reveal about the character of God?
- According to this passage, how will God deal with those who persecute his church?
- Reread verse 8. What is the difference in “know” and “obey”? How are they equally important?
- The aspects of God’s character described in this passage are unpopular. But why is it essential for people to understand the full nature of God? Why must the good news also include the bad news?
- How should thoughts of eternity shape the decisions you make on a daily basis?
RESPOND TO GOD
For good news to exist, there must also be bad news. God is love, but that love is fierce and jealous. He operates with perfect justice, but perfect justice is deadly. He holds mercy in one hand and wrath in the other. The stakes of our lives and the choices we make on this earth could not be higher. Oftentimes we focus our worship on the likeable aspects of God, as if he might be a good houseguest or dinner companion. But let us not forget that Jacob’s hip was disabled at a single touch, grown men collapsed as if dead in the presence of his angels, and Moses was told that no one could see the face of God and survive. When we know and obey God, we have nothing to fear. But if we choose to walk another path, we will encounter the unpopular aspects of God’s character.
- Pray with gratitude that you serve a God of endless grace for those who know and obey him.