Summary: Hell was prepared for the devil and his angels. And when each of us is born, we inherit a little bit of the devil in each of us. It's called sin.
One of the most popular patriotic songs is “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” Many people don’t realize it comes from the War Between the States. It was actually written to be a recruitment song for the Union Forces. Of course, the favorite song of the Confederate forces was “Dixie.”
Among the northern states, there was a popular song called “John Brown’s Body.” John Brown was a militant abolitionist who was tried and hanged for his raid on the Federal armory at Harper’s Ferry in West Virginia. He became a martyr for the cause of abolition. There was a popular song that said, “John Brown’s body lies a-mouldering in the grave; but his soul is marching on.”
In 1861, Julia Ward Howe, another abolitionist, took that tune and applied it a poem she wrote. We know it as the “Battle Hymn of the Republic.” During this chaotic time in our nation’s history, many Americans thought it was the end of the world, and Jesus surely must be coming soon. Julia Ward Howe certainly saw God’s hand at work in the War. The first stanza says, “Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord; He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored; He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword: His truth is marching on.” The second stanza describes the scene of a Union camp. It says, “I have seen Him in the watch-fires of a hundred circling camps, They have builded Him an altar in the evening dews and damps; I can read His righteous sentence by the dim and flaring lamps: His day is marching on.” There are six verses to her poem, but this final verse is hardly ever printed in hymnals. It speaks of the Second Coming. It says, “He is coming like the glory of the morning on the wave, He is Wisdom to the mighty, He is Succour to the brave, So the world shall be His footstool, and the soul of Time His slave, Our God is marching on.”
The Civil War was undoubtedly the darkest period in our nation’s history, but it wasn’t the second coming of Christ. However, I want to borrow the first line from that hymn, because our passage today speaks about the glory of the coming of the Lord. And if you are a born-again believer in Jesus Christ you WILL see the glory of the coming of the Lord.
2 Thessalonians 1:5-10: “All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering. God i6s just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you.”
God is a God of perfect love, but He is also a God of perfect justice. When Jesus came the first time, He came as the Lamb of God. When He comes again, He’ll come as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. He came the first time as the Redeemer, to die for sinners. He will come again as the Ruler, to judge sinners.
Back in the 1980s, evangelist Billy Graham was a guest on “The Tonight Show” with Johnny Carson. He said, “You know, Billy, I bet if Jesus ever came back to earth, I bet we’d do him in again!” I don’t think he was prepared for Billy Graham’s reply. He said: “In the Bible, Jesus predicted that He would return to earth again. But the first time He came in love, the next time, He’ll come in power—no one will DO Him in!”
He was exactly correct. Let’s learn four things about the return of Christ.
I. JESUS GIVES RELIEF IN TROUBLED TIMES
Paul wrote, “He will … give relief to you who are troubled.” (1:7) The believers in Thessalonica were facing opposition and hostility for their faith. The same members of the synagogue, who had run Paul out of town, also hated these believers. Many of these men belonged to vocational guilds that had their own idols. When a man gave his heart to Jesus, he often lost his job because he would refuse to sacrifice to the god of that particular guild. So life was tough. Paul told them Jesus would give them relief in their troubles.