Todays readings.. Nehemiah 7, Joel 2, 2 Thessalonians 1&2
Today we read two of the most dramatic passages in Scripture – in Joel and Thessalonians. It is far from easy to fit together some of the jigsaw pieces they present to us about the last days of human rule. It is clear the return of Christ will be the most incredible event the world has ever witnessed 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. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, (put) away from the presence of the Lord and 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.” [2 Thess. 1 v.7-10] Let us be among those “who have believed.”
What overwhelming awe the experience of that time will create in our hearts! It is also clear from the next chapter that there has to be a particular “lawless one” (AV. ‘man of sin’) “whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the brightness of his coming” [v.8]. This “lawless one” has been responsible for “false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refuse to love the truth and so be saved. Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” [v.9-12]
This ‘lawless one’ is associated with a false religion and deceives people attracting them by encouraging “unrighteousness.” – some disgusting unrighteousness has been exposed in the Roman church in our country in recent years; we note there is no Scripture demanding ‘celibacy’ as a ‘law’ among God’s servants.
When Jesus came the first time, the religious leaders all had a wrong understanding of the prophets’ causing them to fail to recognise their Messiah. As God’s “last days” judgements unfold it will become clearer to those who really ‘know’ God’s word what the ‘signs’ mean and how they will be fulfilled. What is most vital is that we take no “pleasure in unrighteousness.”
Looking at Joel; he tells us of the drama of that day when “the earth quakes … the sun and the moon are darkened, and the stars withdraw their shining. The LORD utters his voice … he who executes his word is powerful. For the day of the LORD is great and very awesome; who can endure it?” [Ch. 2 v.10,11] Yes, who will endure it? The answer is – those whose “faith is growing abundantly” [2 Thess.1 v.3] Is that true of you and I?