The second letter to the Thessalonians details some of the drama that will occur at the return of Christ. Paul stresses how the enemies of God will be destroyed “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” (1:7,8). So there are those who, being aware, “do not obey” (or give serious heed to the gospel), or having first responded, become attracted by the nature of this life.
Could “the flaming fire” be literal? Or is it symbolic language to emphasize the impact and worldwide awareness of Christ’s return? There are verses today in Joel describing how the “earth quakes … The sun and the moon are darkened, and the stars withdraw their shining … the day of the LORD is great and very awesome; who can endure it?” (2:10,11).
The Gospel has now spread into all the earth, and the Bible is available in every language. Sadly, many will be aware of the Gospel but will not obey and “will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marvelled at among all who have believed” (verses 9,10). This is hard to imagine. Then Paul adds a vital message that we should take note of! “To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfil every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ” (verses 11,12). How much do we pray for each other, after the example of Paul?
It is the Lord’s ongoing work today to “make you worthy of his calling”. We cannot by our own efforts, make ourselves worthy. We must become effective “ambassadors for Christ … that in him we might become the righteousness of God. Working together with him” (2 Corinthians 5:20,21; 6:1 – continuous verses).
“To this end we always pray” every day, that he will, until he returns, “comfort (y)our hearts and establish them in every good work and word”. May we all be comforted and established in these ways.