Friday, 22 September 2017
These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, 2 Thessalonians 1:9
Wow Paul. Really? Rather un-PC of you to say such a thing!
The result of the “vengeance” of the previous verse is defined here. Punishment lies ahead for those, as Paul said, “who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.” It is punishment that is eternal in nature, and it is punishment that is universal in scope, excepting only those who have called on Jesus and who are the redeemed of the Lord.
It needs to be understood from the Greek here that the word translated as “destruction” does not mean “annihilation.” Instead, “it emphasizes the consequent loss that goes with the complete ‘undoing’” (HELPS Word Studied). In other words, one cannot justify the doctrine of “no eternal hell for unbelievers” with this verse. The Bible elsewhere speaks of eternal punishment. Instead of annihilation, it will be a type of ruination “from the presence of the Lord.”
Whatever hell will be like in its fullest sense, and whatever pains or sufferings the damned soul will receive, the worst possible punishment is the thing that those who hate God claim they want the most – to cast off the Lord, and to have nothing to do with God. This they will receive, but it will only be after they have beheld His glory at the Great White Throne Judgment. In this, they will see the Source of all goodness, glory, and desire; and then they will be removed from that forever. The memory of that separation alone will be the greatest torment of all.
There will be nothing of God’s eternal splendor; and thus there will be only lack, deprivation, and the highest desire to return to Him for the Water of Life and the spiritual connection they had run from in this life. The memory of what they saw will be the last good thing they ever will see and it will be seared into their memories, but they will be cast from His presence “and from the glory of His power.”
This glory of the power of the Lord certainly has, at least in part, the thought of the human Christ, reigning on His throne. And yet, it surely signifies the divine Lord as well. There is both the physical and spiritual aspect of Jesus, which will endure forever. He will lead His people, but He will also continuously and ceaselessly reveal the unseen Father to us.
It is this on-going revelation of the glory of God that those to be cast away from His presence will desire with all of their mind. They will be deprived of this boundless joy, and it will utterly consume them. However, the misery of having realized that it is the human Jesus that made this possible, and that they rejected Him… that will be the source of their eternal regret. It will eat them up for all eternity that they had mocked and mistreated the exalted name of Jesus, exchanging it for whatever lie they held to in this temporary, pitiful life.
Life application: In 2 Kings 25, Zedekiah, the king of Judah was captured by the king of Babylon. He was taken before him and his sons were killed before his eyes. After that, they put out his eyes. Thus the last thing he ever saw was the ending of his family line. The painful memory of his failed life would be seared into his conscience forever. This is the thought presented to us by Paul’s words of this verse. In both cases, the wounds were self-inflicted. But in the case of those who have rejected Christ Jesus, the wounds will be infinitely more painful. Pay heed, and call on Christ today.
Lord God, Your word speaks of eternal punishment for those who reject Your one and only avenue to peace with You, Jesus. As You have revealed Yourself through Him, and as He is our only way back to You, it would be good for people to consider this, to see if it is true, and to make the right choice now. This life is temporary, it is fleeting, and the ending of it is completely unknown. Help us to be wise and responsible with this moment in time. To Your glory we pray. Amen.