They 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 marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed (2 Thessalonians 1:9–10, esv).
When Jesus Christ came the first time, He came as a servant. He became a man, lived a perfect life, died a substitutionary death, paid the price for our sin on the cross, and rose from the dead to validate it all. You probably knew that already.
But next time, He’s coming not as a servant but as a king. On a white horse. Wearing a robe dipped in blood with a tattoo on His thigh, reading “King of kings and Lord of lords” (Revelation 19:16). Here’s a portion of how the Bible describes Him: “From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty” (Revelation 19:15). Many don’t want to know this, because it’s not good news for everyone.
When Jesus comes again, He’s coming as a King.
What’s more, He is coming “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” (2 Thessalonians 1:7b–8). Throughout Scripture we see angels being messengers, bringing messages for God. But when Christ returns, they won’t be messengers; they’ll be mercenaries. Angels of His power. Instruments of His punishment. Bringers of vengeance on every unknown injustice, every unpunished abuse, every wrong, perfectly remembered by the God who sees everything.
Truly, “it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31).
Many people hearing these kinds of end-time descriptions think of them only as the ravings of a tomato-faced, hellfire-and-brimstone preacher. Having suppressed the reality of God, not wanting it to be true, they don’t want to consider the horror that will fall one day on the majority of humanity, realizing they’ve waited too long, the opportunity is gone, and it’s now too late, leaving them completely “without excuse” (Romans 1:20).
But as bad as this news is for anyone who fails to receive and obey the gospel, there is no greater hope in all the world than thinking today on the real reason for Christ’s coming: “to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed.”
“Marveled at.” Astonished by. All those thoughts you’ve had—all the weighing and wondering and trying to figure out why your life happened the way it did—will all be swept away in one dazzling moment. You’ll see Jesus Christ, and you’ll immediately realize how perfectly and completely He’s done everything. Nothing left unaccomplished. Nothing to keep you from being protected from eternal judgment by the relationship He’s made with you.
You’ll want to fall on your knees—or on your face—absolutely marveling at Him: “the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation” (Colossians 1:15)—“the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature,” the One who “upholds the universe by the word of his power” (Hebrews 1:3). When John saw Him, he wrote, “I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, ‘Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades’” (Revelation 1:17–18).
Mind-boggling. Shocking. Marvelous.
Let it change your understanding of eternity—and of the God you’ll worship throughout it—right now.
Father in heaven, how easily the activities of daily life cloud the reality of Your Son’s imminent appearing. Thank You for revealing it with such great description in Your Word, that I can turn my eyes toward that blessed hope at any time. How I pray today for those who are rejecting Your gospel, who resist the path You’ve mercifully provided so we can be saved from the judgment we all deserve. Increase my humble fear of You, even as You increase my gratitude for Your grace, in Jesus’ name, amen.