June 7, 2010 David Balzer

2 Thessaslonians 1: Why Jesus Looks Forward to His Return

Lachlan’s playing in a new cricket team this year at school. And I’ve enjoyed spending Saturdays watching him play. But the bowlers are the best, and the fastest, he’s ever faced, and a of weeks ago, he was struggling. But he was scoring runs.

So their fastest bowler decided to bowl him some bouncers. The first one hit him, the second one whizzed past his head, and rattled him up. The third one Lachlan edged, and was caught behind.

I was disappointed, but Lachlan was okay. And he’d learned a lot.

Later that day, he came in to bat again. In between overs, the coach took a water bottle out to their fast bowler, the one who’d got Lachlan out, and had a few words with him. Straight away, he came on to bowl, and started bowling bouncers again. Lachlan coped much better, and ended up hitting him for a of boundaries.

But the point of the story was my reaction. By this stage I couldn’t sit still. I’d forgotten about the book I was reading. On one hand I was VERY PROUD of him. How well he was coping at the high level. But on the other hand, I was getting more and more worked up – first at the coach, then at the rest of the team, for picking on my boy. I wanted to defend him. Stand up for him. This wasn’t the way things were supposed to be.

Part of me knew / that was just the way you played cricket. Look for a weakness, and try to exploit it. But part of me thought it was a bit unfair. Bully-boy tactics. I just wanted to jump in, give the coach a piece of my mind, then run out on the field, and take on the whole team.

I think Lachlan’s glad I didn’t do any of it. He probably would have died of embarrassment.

And I want to suggest that Jesus is in a similar position. As he looks out at HIS children on the field. The fallen and broken world we’re living in. He sees our struggles, sometimes getting hit, sometimes hitting a boundary. He’s proud of our achievements. But he also just wants to jump in there. And fix things up. And make everything right.

He can’t wait for the end of the day’s play.

Today we’re going to think about THE SECOND COMING OF JESUS. We spent a few weeks looking at it in some parables from Matthew in Sept. So, the basic idea we’ve covered pretty well. Jesus is DEFINITELY coming back. It will be UNMISTAKEABLE, and UNEXPECTED. And his judgment will be PERFECT and JUST.

So, today we’re going to take a different approach. SIX REASONS why Jesus looks forward to his return.

Relationship – Jn 17:24; 1 Thess 4:17; 5:10; Revelation 19:7-9

The first reason is RELATIONSHIPS. Jesus is looking forward to his return because it will signal the beginning of a new depth of relationship with his people.

In Jn 17 Jesus prays for all Christians. In v13, he prays to his heavenly Father, “I AM COMING TO YOU NOW, but I say these things while I am still in the world. Then in v24 he says (slide 2),

24 “Father, I WANT THOSE YOU HAVE GIVEN ME TO BE WITH ME WHERE I AM, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.

Jesus wants to be WITH his people, and for them to experience the glory of his character and power in a way they’ve never been able to on earth.

I think too often we just think about US looking forward to eternity. Rather than something JESUS looks forward to too.

Listen to what some OTHER parts of the Bible say. 1 Thess 4:17  (slide 3),

16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds TO MEET THE LORD IN THE AIR. AND SO WE WILL BE WITH THE LORD FOREVER. 18 Therefore encourage each other with these words.

In ch 5 v10, he says

10 Jesus died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we MAY LIVE TOGETHER WITH HIM.

Or what about the book of Revelation? It uses the image of a groom and a bride to talk about the intimate relationship we’ll share with Jesus when he returns. Revelation 21:2. (slide 4)

2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband (Who, ch 19 tells us, is Jesus). 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.

One. Jesus looks forward to his return because it means a new depth of relationship with his people.

Reward – Mt 25:21; Lk 12:37

Second reason is REWARD. We saw this a few weeks ago with the parable of the talents. Those who live serving Jesus NOW, will be REWARDED when he returns. Mt 25:21  (slide 5a),.

‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

Eternity will be the reward for faithful service HERE. And Jesus is HAPPY about it.

And Lk 12:37 puts a different spin on the sort of reward Jesus has in store for us. (slide 5b)

37 It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. I tell you the truth, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them.

Jesus is looking forward to serving us as the SERVANT KING / THEN / as reward for our service for HIM / NOW.

Repayment – 2 Thess 1:6 – Christian martyrs

Third, Jesus looks forward to his return because it will be a time of REPAYMENT. Of justice, and setting wrongs to right.

In the last month, Hindu mobs in the Indian state of Orissa have rampaged through Christian villages, 40 (slide 6).

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that 20,000 Christians in the district of Kandhamal fled their homes for state-run camps. They’ve been told they can return only if they convert to Hinduism.

At a press conference in Delhi a nun said she had been d and paraded in Orissa by a rampaging mob of Hindus.

Similar things are happening to Christians in Iraq or Sudan or Egypt or Indonesia, at the hands of Muslims. Or China, at the hands of the communist government.

It is widely reported that more Christians have been martyred in the 20th century than in the previous 19 centuries. One recent estimate was that 70 million Christians have been martyred, and that 45 million of them were in the last century. Terrible!

And, it’s not RIGHT. And one day, Jesus will bring JUSTICE. He won’t let evil men get away with evil FOREVER.

(slide 7) 2 Thess 1. The passage we read earlier. Paul is comforting the church in Thessalonica, who are being persecuted. And here’s what he says. V4.

4 Therefore, among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring.5 All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering. 6 God is just: HE WILL PAY BACK TROUBLE TO THOSE WHO TROUBLE YOU

When we’ve been the victims of , or evil, or injustice. What we LONG for is JUSTICE. For things to be put right.

Which is exactly what Jesus will do. And no one will get off. Bribes won’t work, no rorting the system. No escaping justice. It won’t matter how well you hide the evidence. Won’t matter how good a barrister you can afford. Everyone will get exactly what they deserve.

There’ll be the perfect repayment of injustice and evil.

And Paul goes into more detail about the specifics down in v8.

8 He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power

See, it’s not just those who kill Christians who’ll be repayed. Because there’s more to sin than that. The ultimate sin is to ignore God. And to live your life as if he’s not there.

There’ll be punishment for those WHO DON’T KNOW GOD. Which is more than just knowing ABOUT him. It means to know him. To have a relationship with him.

And what THAT means is explained in the next phrase. Those who don’t know God/ are those who DON’T OBEY THE GOSPEL OF OUR LORD JESUS.

God REVEALS himself in Jesus. Sent him to live, and die a criminal’s . To win our freedom and forgiveness. So we can become God’s friends rather than his enemies.

So to reject that offer. To think you can do better on your own. Is to reject Jesus. And to reject JESUS/ is to reject the offer of knowing God himself.

And when someone makes that choice, then justice means giving them what they want. To be shut out from God’s presence, and the majesty of his power.

It’s fair and it’s just. And it’s reason number 3. Repayment.

Relief – 2 Thess 1:7a

And side by side with the repayment of evil is reason number 4. Relief for the godly. There in the very next verse. (slide 8)

2 Thess 1:6-7 He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you 7 AND GIVE RELIEF TO YOU WHO ARE TROUBLED, AND TO US AS WELL. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels.

Jesus longs to relieve the suffering of his people. We saw it in the story of Lazarus two weeks ago. Jesus saw the weeping of Mary and the crowd because Lazarus had died. And he was deeply moved, and he WEPT.

Robert and I were praying with Dean and Di a few weeks ago before Di had her gall bladder out. And we were praying for RELIEF for Di’s gallstone attacks.

We anointed her with oil, and prayed for God’s HEALING. It’s been a terrible ordeal. And Jesus graciously gave Di RELIEF until the surgery. Di said, “Why didn’t we do this SOONER?”

During our prayer time, Dean also prayed for Di’s mum, Jan. She’s a Christian, and a few years ago she suffered a brain aneurism. She’s completely incapacitated. And she needs RELIEF. And Dean prayed what I’m guessing they’ve prayed plenty of times in the last few years. For God to RELIEVE her suffering. And take her home.

And Jesus longs to relieve the suffering of his people. Something he does every day as he answers prayer. But which he’ll do DEFINITIVELY at his second coming. When he relieves the suffering of ALL his people. Completely and permanently.

That’s the FOURTH reason.

Revelation – 2 Thess 1:7b –

And the FIFTH reason is right there in the same verse. Revelation. 2 Thess 1:6-7 (slide 9)

He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you 7 and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. THIS WILL HAPPEN WHEN THE LORD JESUS IS REVEALED FROM HEAVEN IN BLAZING FIRE WITH HIS POWERFUL ANGELS.

At the moment SOME people recognise Jesus. Others ignore him. Either TREAT him as if he doesn’t exist, or don’t believe he does. But when Jesus returns, he’ll be revealed in his undiluted power. And everyone will be forced to recognise his rule. Acknowledge his right to judge them, acknowledge that he is God, that he died to save them. That he deserves their allegiance.

The whole world, living or . Young or old. Black or white or yellow. First world, or third world. Kings, presidents, prime ministers or dictators. Chief executives or unemployed. Olympic athletes or cripples. Muslim, Buddhist, Jew, Christian or atheist. No one will be able to deny it.

It’s the picture of Rev 5:13 (slide 10).

13 Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing: “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!”

It’s the FIFTH reason. Revelation.

Restoration – Rom 8 –

And the sixth reason Jesus is looking forward to his return in that it will be a time of RESTORATION. It’s part of what it means that he’ll provide relief.

In Rom 8, we read about how the world at the moment is groaning, frustrated that things are broken and ruined. There’s pollution and earthquakes and cancer and divorce and . And a hundred other terrible things.

But when Jesus returns, he’ll end all the pain. He’ll restore US, and he’ll restore the world. So that it will suit his new people. It will be the ULTIMATE extreme makeover. Renovation rescue.

Listen to the description: Rom 8.18 (slide 11).

18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 The creation waits IN EAGER EXPECTATION for the sons of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to FRUSTRATION, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be LIBERATED from its to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. 22 We know that the whole creation has been GROANING as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved.

It’s the hope that Jesus will RESTORE everything. Creation and us renewed and fresh. Restored to the way things were AT FIRST. Everything PERFECT. Which is the SIXTH reason Jesus can’t wait for his return.

So? 2 Thess 1:11-12

But what does it all mean for us? What does the certainty of Jesus’ second coming mean for how we live today?

Let’s finish with Paul’s prayer in 2 Thess 1.V11. (slide 12) The last thing on his mind is that his readers become so focussed on the FUTURE that they’re no use NOW.

11 With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith. 12 We pray this 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.

Since this is the future for God’s world, may you be counted WORTHY of that future. Live up to it.

PRE-EMPT IT. Bring the realities of ETERNITY into TODAY. So that you, and me, and all God’s people might be WORTHY of that calling.

And do it TRUSTING in the STRENGTH God promises. As you work out his purposes. Our part is to TRUST. God is the one who gives the strength. That’s courage, it’s generosity, it’s goodness, it’s patience, it’s hope, it’s compassion, it’s perseverance. See it there in v11?

by his POWER he may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your FAITH

Your faith in His power enables you to achieve every good purpose and every act.

Be people who go about life NOW growing in your RELATIONSHIP. A personal and real friendship with Jesus that’s an entrée to the complete intimacy of eternity.

Be people working for Jesus’ REWARD. People for whom the shiny and deceptive rewards of this life mean NOTHING. Money, success, fame – NOTHING. Approval, power, possessions – NOTHING.

Build the PRIORITIES of eternity into TODAY. Because it’s Christ’s reward that matters.

Work at bringing JUSTICE / NOW.

And warn people of the REPAYMENT that’s hanging over their heads for ignoring God, and disobeying the gospel of Jesus. REVEAL the majesty of who Jesus is in your words, and your actions.

Look to RELIEVE the suffering of God’s people. Be generous and compassionate. Restore where you can. Pray intelligently for our brothers and sisters being martyred today.

And long for the PERFECT relief and restoration that Jesus longs to provide.

Jesus can’t wait for his return. How about you? What’s YOUR attitude?

On the very last page of the Bible, we read this promise from Jesus to his people.

12 “Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.

To which the writer, John, sighs

Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

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