and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire,2 Thessalonians 1:7(NASB)
Faith and patience, in the face of trials and tribulation, were two qualities of the Thessalonian believers. Those who are persecuted for righteousness sake are blessed in the eye of Jesus, and this is the message of many New Testament writers. The apostle John tells us that sufferings, imprisonment, persecution, and even death, await many Christians in this life - but a crown of life is the promised reward for those that are faithful during the time of trial, and who patiently endure in the day of trouble.
James, the younger brother of the Lord Jesus, explains that the testing of our faith produces endurance, while Paul in this passage encourages us, by revealing that we who are afflicted, will certainly be given relief, "when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire." God is the righteous judge of the whole earth, and although we appear to be living in days when evil men prosper, and the righteous are treated unjustly... punishment and judgement awaits our persecutors, while peace and rest is the reward for the people of God who are abused, afflicted, troubled, and oppressed.
Jesus told us that in this world we would have trouble, and in his final epistle to Timothy, the apostle Paul reminds us that all who live godly will suffer persecution. But we are called to rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that affliction works perseverance in the life of a saint. As members of Christ's body, we are to be of good cheer, for He has overcome the world.
We are further exhorted by Peter, not to be surprised by any of the fiery ordeals we may encounter, for God uses them to test us and train us for our fitness to rule and reign with Christ, in His coming Millennial Kingdom. Rather, we are to remember that the extent to which we share in the sufferings of Christ, is the same measure that will be meted out to us, when He returns in power, great splendour, and glorious majesty.
Paul's comforting words to these suffering saints in Thessalonica, gave great assurance to them in their affliction - and also reassures us that a day is coming when God, Who is the righteous Judge of the earth, will one day repay the very people who afflict His children. Indeed, they will be afflicted with great trouble and severe punishment.
Often we consider that we suffer alone in times of trouble, but this passage assures us that God is a righteous Judge Who is with us in our pain, and will repay with tribulation those that persecute us. Those who have undergone unjust treatment and have suffered for righteousness sake, will be vindicated and avenged by the Lord Himself, for God has appointed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness, by the Man Whom He has ordained - the Man Christ Jesus.
This verse promises retribution for the oppressors of God's people, and rest for His saints - when Christ returns for His Church. Vengeance belongs to the Lord and He will repay those who rejected Christ and persecuted His saints. The great and terrible Day of the Lord is fast approaching, when judgement will be poured out in fullest measure, on this Christ-rejecting, Christian-hating, sinful world.
John the Baptist told us that Christ would baptise believers with the Holy Spirit and unbelievers with a baptism of fiery judgement. The judgement of the nations takes place at the end of the Great Tribulation but the Great White Throne judgement occurs at the end of Christ's millennial reign when all who have rejected God's offer of salvation and refuse to obey the gospel of Christ will be flung into the flaming fires of everlasting destruction.
God is not blind to the treatment His children receive, and the abuse we undergo, for Christ's sake. One day, the tables will be turned, and those who are afflicted will be given relief. All wrongs will be righted, when the appointed day for Christ's return arrives, and Jesus is revealed from heaven, with His mighty angels in flaming fire.
Heavenly Father, thank You for these reassuring words of comfort from Paul, knowing that the ungodly, who oppress Your children unjustly, will one day be punished, and that a day of rest and rewards is planned for all who live godly in Christ Jesus, and suffer persecution for righteousness sake. I pray that I may exhibit faith and patient endurance in the difficulties that I face, for Your greater glory - and when I am reviled by evil men, I pray that I may demonstrate the same God-given grace the Lord Jesus Christ showed, when He was despised and rejected by men. Thank You that You are a righteous God, and I pray that I am able to rejoice in all my suffering, and to learn the lessons of patience and faith that You desire to teach me. In Jesus' name I pray, AMEN.