Thursday, May 26, 2016

Jesus Delivers from Wrath – 1 Thessalonians 1:10

And to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come. (NIV®)

Waiting for Jesus

At that time there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon. He was righteous and devout and was eagerly waiting for the Messiah to come and rescue Israel … He said … “He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and he is the glory of your people Israel!” (Luke 2:25, 32 NLT)

Why does anyone wait for Jesus? The Jews were waiting for the Messiah for thousands of years. Before Jacob died, he said he was waiting for his salvation (Gen 49:18). This longing for salvation started when God promised Eve that the Savior would crush Satan’s head. As generations passed, this promise continued to be passed along. It wasn’t just for the Jewish nation, but for all mankind. This was recognized by Job, who was not Jewish. Job longed to see his Redeemer and had confidence that even though he would die, he would someday see Him face to face (Job 19:25-27), though he did not know it would be Jesus. 

The prevailing thought when Jesus was born was that the Messiah would come and reign as king over Israel. The apocryphal writings, which originated between the last book of the Old Testament and the Gospels, were inspired by Daniel’s visions and interpretations. The Son of Man was presented with an eternal kingdom in Daniel 7:13-14. The Messiah was predicted to arrive in Jerusalem sixty-two “weeks” after the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem after its destruction by Babylon (Dan 9:25). Calculating the date based on the Jewish calendar and one “week” being seven years, the exact date is when Jesus arrived on Palm Sunday. That is why the stones would have cried out had the people not welcomed Jesus (Luke 19:40). 

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. (Isa 53:5 NIV®)

However, they all missed Daniel 9:26 which says, “And after the sixty-two weeks, an anointed one [Messiah[1]] shall be cut off [killed]” (RSV). They couldn’t reconcile Daniel’s earlier vision of an eternal kingdom with the Messiah being killed. Now we know that Jesus was crucified for our sins and His first coming was to redeem all of mankind from our sins as Isaiah 53 makes sense in the light of Jesus’ life, death, burial, and resurrection. He is now ascended into heaven and we are again waiting for His return.
Are we waiting for Jesus with the wrong expectations? We know He is coming back again, but why are we looking forward to that? We don’t want to misunderstand what His second coming will be. The only reason we should eagerly look forward to His return is if we have already welcomed Him personally into our lives as Lord and Savior.

Who’s Son?

For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. (Phil 3:20 NASB)

Paul says we are waiting for God’s Son (1 Thess 1:10) and some people think that God’s Son could be many things but deny that Jesus is God. Sometimes when we concentrate too much on Jesus being our Savior, we forget that God is our Savior both in the New Testament (Titus 1:3) and the Old (Isa 45:15). He says of Himself in Isaiah 45:21, “And there is no other god besides me, a righteous God and a Savior” (ESV). Surely, when Paul says that Jesus is Savior and God’s Son, there can be no doubt that he is talking about the Second Person of the Trinity. If there is any doubt about Paul’s believe in the triune nature of God, he also gives Jesus the title of Lord and Christ. (We must not forget that Christ is a title and not Jesus’ familial name.) 

She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins. (Matt 1:21 NIV®)

Yet, we cannot forget that Jesus was also born of a human parent. He didn’t just drop out of the sky fully-grown and ready to lead His disciples for three years then go to the cross. There are several reasons for this and the simplest is that prophecy had to be fulfilled. If Satan could point to any prophecy in Scripture that is not fulfilled when the end of all things come, he could prove that God has a flaw and has no right to judge anyone. So, when the Bible says that the Messiah must be of the line of David (1 Chron 17:11-14), as was well know by Jesus’ enemies (Matt 22:42-45), Jesus the Messiah could not have come other than as a baby from the line of David. 

But the free gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many. (Rom 5:15 NASU)

The more complex reason that Jesus had to be born as a baby has to do with the fact that He had to be fully human and at the same time be fully God. If He dropped out of the sky, He would not have been fully human. He would not have the DNA of His mother. He would have looked like a man but everyone would know that He wasn’t really a human. Being God, Jesus was without sin (Heb 4:15) so that He could be the perfect sacrifice for sin. Yet, He also had to be a man; otherwise, the sacrifice would not apply for all mankind. Adam got the human race into the sin-mess in the first place, “through one man sin entered the world” (Rom 5:12 NKJV). So the only way to get out of the sin-mess was to have another man, Jesus, pay the penalty for sin, “through one Man's righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life” (Rom 5:18 NKJV). As a valid representative of the human race, Jesus’ sacrifice applies to all of us. If He had not come as a baby, He would not be a valid representative for all of us. 

Raised from the Dead

If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. (1 Cor 15:17 RSV)

The Christian faith lives or dies on the resurrection of Jesus. If He was not raised from the dead, then we have absolutely no reason to adhere to the faith. The Christian faith would be a sham (1 Cor 15:14) and worse than other religions because it would be giving false hope to people. Satan knows this full well and tried from the first day of Jesus’ resurrection to keep people from believing it. Satan is the father of lies (John 8:44) and so he worked through the officials to bribe the guards of the tomb to lie and say that the disciples stole the body while they slept (Matt 28:12-15). Satan didn’t way us to know that His resurrection is our proof that our sins have been forgiven.

For he has set a day for judging the world with justice by the man he has appointed, and he proved to everyone who this is by raising him from the dead. (Acts 17:31 NLT)

His resurrection is also proof that He is coming back again and this time, it will be to judge the world. We don’t usually think about His resurrection in this light, but there on Mar’s hill, the Areopagus, Paul announced to the pagans that Jesus’ resurrection was proof that Jesus would judge the world. It should have struck fear into the hearts of everyone listening, but it didn’t. That’s when some scoffed because resurrection of the dead was not scientific (that’s what they say today). Others wanted to hear more and some believed. Unfortunately, for our generation, most scoff at the idea that anyone could be raised from the dead, walk on water, or turn water into wine. What they don’t realize is that the resurrection is more than just a sign for us to believe in Jesus, it gives Him the right to judge those who scoff or put off belief until it is too late.

Wrath to Come

Or do you presume upon the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience? Do you not know that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But by your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God's righteous judgment will be revealed. (Rom 2:4-5 RSV)

What a contrast there is between God’s kindness and patience and His wrath. His kindness has continued for thousands of years. Sure, there have been times in the past where His judgment has been unleashed upon the earth (the flood), on nations (Israel, Judah, Babylon), or cities (Jericho, Nineveh, Sodom, Gomorrah), and individuals (Adam, Eve, Nebuchadnezzar, disobedient prophets, Ananias, Sapphira, Herod). As I thought through the various judgments God has brought, it was evident that these judgments don’t spare anyone. Whether it is the world or individuals, we all have the potential to store up wrath against ourselves and everything that has happened in the past is nothing like the wrath that will be revealed “on the day of wrath” (Rom 2:5). 

For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thess 5:9 NASB)

The good news is that Christians will not suffer God’s wrath on the Day of Judgment because our destination is salvation. We escape first because Jesus’ blood was shed for us obtaining our salvation (1 Thess 5:9), but also because we have not had the impenitent hearts mentioned in Romans 2:5. But our salvation does not mean that the rest of the world will escape His wrath. Much of the book of Revelation describes God’s wrath being poured out on individuals, cities, nations, and finally on the whole earth. God will finish pouring out His wrath on the earth with seven plagues (Rev 15:1). 

The difference between God’s patience is that He has waited for millennia while His wrath comes suddenly and for a very short period of time. His patience and kindness provide all of us the opportunity we need to turn to Jesus for salvation but His wrath is when justice demands that His kindness must result in judgment. 

Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. (Rev 19:11 ESV)

Paul says Jesus will deliver us from the wrath to come (1 Thess 1:10), but it is this same Jesus who will bring the wrath of God as, “He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty” (Rev 19:15 ESV). We are living in a time when this aspect of Jesus’ return is hardly ever mentioned. We are so intent in explaining that Jesus is loving and forgiving that we fail to warn people of the consequences of rejecting His means of salvation. While we are unquestionably instructed to live godly lives and to show God’s goodness to others, we shouldn’t shy away from letting people know that God’s wrath is coming also. We aren’t the judges but He is the Judge. 

Just as many people misunderstood Jesus’ purpose in coming the first time, they misunderstand His second coming. They misunderstand who He is, God’s Son, God in the flesh, Savior, and also Judge. We can’t think that Jesus will save those who want a Savior, but reject Him as part of the Trinity and therefore Lord as well. We won’t have salvation based on easy-believism that redefines sin instead of repenting from sin as God describes it in the Bible. These and other things reveal that we don’t really know Jesus who will say, “I never knew you” (Matt 7:23 ESV). 

If you are able to read this and have not acknowledged Jesus as God, Savior, and Lord, if you have not repented of your sins and demonstrated that faith and repentance in obedience to Jesus, then you can do that now and know that you will be saved from the wrath to come. It isn’t too late.

[1] The Hebrew word for anointed one, mashiyach, is transliterated as Messiah.

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