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Author: Ron Graham

Hard to Hear God

Christ's Retribution
—2Thessalonians 1:5-10

When Jesus returns it will be a marvellous day for his saints. All who believed will enter the glory of God’s eternal kingdom. But God’s righteous judgment does not end there. Those who did not obey the gospel and those who afflicted his saints, will be repaid with affliction (2Thessalonians 1:5-10).

They will suffer eternal punishment away from the presence of God. People today —all of us— need to “behold the goodness and severity of God” (Romans 11:22).

The severity of God is an uncomfortable truth; nevertheless we need to accept and believe it just as we do the truth about God’s goodness and grace.

2Thessalonians 1:5-10

2Thessalonians 1:6-10

6It is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you, 7and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, 8in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, 10when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints... ” (2Thessalonians 1:6-10 NKJV).

1 Judgment

Now let's think some more about the Judgment to come. When Felix heard about it, he trembled. (Acts 24:25)

The Bible warns us that "It is appointed for man to die once, and after this comes the judgment" (Hebrews 9:27).

That's an appointment we all have with Jesus. "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad" (2Corinthians 5:10 NKJV).

Jesus "will judge the living and the dead". On judgment day there will be a resurrection of the dead and they will be judged along with the living (2Timothy 4:1-2, 1Peter 4:5).


This coming judgment is bad news —utterly terrifying— to those who think about it. However there is good news. If we follow his truth, the gospel, Jesus forgives our sins and bestows righteousness upon us.

"Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him" (Romans 5:9).

Jesus "delivers us from the wrath to come" (1Thessalonians 1:10).

2 Punishment

This wrath to come results in punishment or retribution. It is described as "taking vengeance on those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and the glory of his power" (2Thessalonians 1:8-10).

Jesus, because he is God and in complete unity with his Father, has every right to work revenge on the disobedient and opposers —even as he is right to justify (forgive sins and make righteous) those who obey him and join his kingdom. "Vengeance is Mine; I will repay says the Lord" (Romans 12:19, Hebrews 10:30).


Judgment day will not be the first time God punishes the sinful. Do you remember Sodom and Gomorrah for example? "God turned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes. He condemned them to destruction, making them an example to those who afterward would live ungodly" (2Peter 2:6).

None of this means that Christ is unfair. He is perfectly just in all his dealings with man. He is longsuffering, but when he does eventually punish, he will make a "righteous judgment" (2Thessalonians 1:5).

3 Banishment

Now finally we should consider the most awful aspect of Christ’s retribution —permanent banishment from God’s fellowship. Paul calls it "eternal destruction from the presence of the Lord" (2Thessalonians 1:9).

It is true that many people have "no hope and [are] without God in this world" (Ephesians 2:12).

However they can change that, because God is "longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance" (2Peter 3:9).


There is a place "prepared for the devil and his angels" where there is no presence of God. It's not meant for you, and you will not be sent into exile there if you seek Jesus, follow him, and do what he has said (Matthew 25:41).


Webservant Ron Graham

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