Read 1 Thessalonians 1
Focus on verse 9-10
That moment when you are reading something, and you think you know what is coming but then it takes a little twist and you stop short…and go back an read it again because it was not what you expected. It occasionally happens when someone is speaking as well, and we have a “wait…what?” moment. In today’s reading Paul is writing to the church in Thessalonica, which is currently known as, Thessaloniki in the country of Greece. As he commends them regarding their warm reception to not just the message of Jesus, but also to the messengers who brought the news, he drops one of these “wait…what?” phrases at the end of the sentence.
For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.(v. 9-10)
The New Testament church believed that Jesus would return as He had said, and that His return would be imminent. They also believed that there was bad stuff coming after this event for those who chose not to believe. The wait…what phrase I am talking about is the last phrase, which reads, “Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.”
What we sometimes overlook as we read this, is that if Jesus is delivering those who trust in Him from the coming wrath, this means there is wrath coming! If the Bible is accurate about its description of that wrath of God, it will not be pretty. It will be a horrific time for the people who remain alive, and most of them will not survive. Some might argue that this makes God out to be an unloving monster, but I would argue that it just makes God out to be as just as He is loving. It is not like these people do not have a choice. Everyone is given some opportunity to accept the love of God – these opportunities do not look the same for every person, but every person is given the opportunity to submit to as much as God has revealed of Himself to that person. Only those who reject that offer and rebel against Him will find themselves in this position. So don’t get caught in a wait…what moment. You have the opportunity right now to choose to repent and accept the gift God is offering.