Michael Youssef - End of History and You - Part 2
Whenever someone wrongs us, the first reaction, human nature the way it is, the first thought that hit us is revenge, right? How we're personally going to avenge the wrong that is done to us? How are we gonna hit back even harder than we are hit? How are we going to pay back double, or triple, or more? And then we conjure and we plan retribution, how we're gonna do this. But even the non-Christian world now recognizes that trying to take revenge into your own hand is counterproductive. Some wise person said, listen carefully, said, "Your enemies are a very valuable asset, as long as you refrain from striking back at them".
You say, "Well, how come"? Because they keep you on the alert when you might otherwise become spiritually lazy. Why are harassers, and false accusers, and critics good for us? Why? Because they keep us on the knees of prayer for them. In the last message, we began this series from 2 Thessalonians and we saw how the Apostle Paul was filled with thanksgiving to the Lord for their increasing faith. He gives thanks to God for their growing love for one another. He gives thanks to God for ever-intensifying hope and trusting in the Lord in the midst of crushing circumstances. It wasn't everything going great.
And so, the Apostle Paul goes on to begin to lift their eyes, begin to elevate their vision into that day that is coming when God brings history to an end. And as we saw in the last message, that Jesus is gonna bring history to a climax. He's gonna bring it to an end on that day. And that's what he has asked them, to keep looking at that day, encouraging them in order that they may resolve to stand stronger in their faith, to keep on growing in their love, and to keep the intensifying for that hope. Here's what he's saying. He's saying that all of this unjust suffering is actually testifying to the fact of your incredible reward that you're gonna receive on that great day. It's a great indication about that inheritance that you're going to receive on that great day. But I wanna stop here and I want you to listen for a minute, because a lot of people get confused about thisю
The Bible never, never, never tries to gloss over evil. The Bible never tries to pretend that evil does not exist. That's not in the Scripture. The Bible never says that God winks at evil. No, no, no, no, the Bible calls evil, evil. The Bible calls suffering, suffering. The Bible calls pain, pain. And what the Bible said is that when believers suffer unjustly, when believers experience crushing circumstances that is beyond their control, when believers are baptized by fire, not only will God be with them and present in a very special way, not only that he will strengthen them in a way they have never experienced before, but God will not overlook the injustice that has taken place, that God will not let those who caused them pain get off scot-free, that God will not let the false accusers get away with it, that God will not let the persecutors of the believers off the hook, as it were.
But while his believers are gonna be sustained, they're gonna be strengthened in the times of trials, in the times of difficulties, in the time of false accusation, in the times of persecution, God vengeance is coming upon those who cause them suffering. In fact, 2 Thessalonians chapter 1, verse 5 to 10, just those five verses, Paul is saying that when the Lord returns and history comes to an end, when he comes to bring history to conclusion, when Jesus the Savior becomes Jesus the Judge and sits on the bench, everything that you see right now is gonna be turned upside down. Today, people are calling good, evil, and evil, good. But on that day, good will be good and evil will be evil. Everything that has made you sorrowful because of injustice, the injustice in it, is gonna become topsy turvy.
In fact, the Apostle Paul answers three questions in these five verses, and I wanna share those questions with you. He's answering them to the Thessalonians. He's answering them to all of us. The first question is this, when will God vindicate the believers and judge the non-believers? Secondly, who will be punished? And thirdly, what form will that punishment take? Now, let's look at these questions and Paul's answers to them from the Word of God. When will God vindicate the believers and judge the wicked and those who have rejected him? We saw in the last message that Christ's return will bring the history to a climax. Christ's return will bring an end to the opportunities that everyone has today of repenting, and turning to him, and receive the gift of salvation and eternal life.
There's gonna be an end when the door will be shut and the opportunity is no more. God is not gonna just feel sorry for people and let them in. He's giving them the opportunity now. He's giving them the invitation now. He is saying, "Come to me now. The hour is now. The moment is now". But the day is gonna come when that opportunity is gone. Christ's return will be a moment of great separation. The return of Christ will cause the world to turn upside down. Please hear me right, right here and now, if you have any spiritual sensitivity, you have to agree with the fact that the glory of Jesus is hidden right now. It is hidden. People can't see it. Right now, those who love Jesus are harassed in every way. Right here and now, Jesus' name is used as a swear word by Hollywood types. Every believer today feels the burden.
If they don't feel it personally, they feel it for others. But even believers in the Lord Jesus Christ today are not walking in the power of his presence. Ah, but when he splits the eastern sky, he's gonna reveal to both believers and non-believers alike. He's gonna reveal something that they could not even see. We see it through the eyes of faith. We believe it because God said it, the Holy Spirit testified, the Word testified, but we cannot see it with our own eyes. We will on that day. Look at verse 7. He says, "He will reveal". The word here, "apokalypsis," it means reveal, open, uncover, unveil. Something hidden, but then it's not gonna be hidden anymore. Look at verse 7 again. He will return not alone. He will return with the mighty angels. He will return in blazing fire.
Where does Paul get this information? Well, the Holy Spirit gave it to him, but also he takes it as straight out of the mouth of Jesus. Matthew 16:27, here's what Jesus said about his return. Here's what Jesus said about that day. He said, "The Son of Man is gonna come in his Father's glory with his angels, and he will reward each person according to what he has done". You see, Paul did not make up the stuff. He takes it right from Jesus, from his lips. But that's not all. That's not all. On that day, he's gonna return with flaming fire.
You say, "What is that flaming fire that Paul is talking about"? This is the fire of judgment. This is the fire of his blazing justice. This is the fire of consuming and destroying sin. This is the fire of the furnace of his avenging his faithful children. This is the fire of his divinity that people denied it, and mocked it, and refused to believe it. In fact, Paul tells us that on that day, his return will reveal his two-sided, two-fold justice: relief for the faithful and retribution to the non-believers. Peace and rest for the believers; pain and suffering for his enemies. Refreshments for his suffering saints; revenge for his deniers, and false believers, and those who, in apostasy, turned their back on him. The second question is, who will receive this retribution, this judgment?
Verses 8 and 9. The word "retribution" here means full measure. Full measure. It's not gonna be just partial. It's not gonna be just a slap on the wrist. No, no, no, no, it's not gonna be just a partial. It's gonna be full measure. That's what the word means. So, who are the recipients of this inexplicable punishment and judgment? All those who have denied him as the only Savior and Lord. All those who have rejected him as the only way to God the Father and to heaven. All those who have mocked, harassed, insulted, and persecuted his faithful believers. Listen to it. John the Baptist said about that day in Matthew 3:12, he said, "His winnowing fork is in his hand".
Well, some of you might not know what a winnowing fork is. Back in the old days when they cut the wheat and they bring it all on the threshing floor, and with heavy sticks, they would beat the wheat. And then, they wait for a windy day, and this long fork, long, wooden fork that's called a winnowing fork, the farmer would just lift up everything off the threshing floor. The windier the better, because the wind blows away the chaff, all the husk, and the wheat will come on the threshing floor. Now that you understand that, let me read you the full passage from Matthew 3:12. "His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire". Unquenchable. It's not gonna die down. So much for gentle Jesus. So much for the milk toast Jesus that is preached in many a pulpit today. So much for the meek and mild Jesus.
Listen to me, beloved. Anyone who preaches only the mercy of Jesus and does not preach the justice of Jesus is preaching a false gospel and misleading a whole lot of people. Luke 21:22, listen to what Jesus himself said. You see, a lot of people don't want to preach from Luke 21:22. In fact, some people trying to take it out of the Bible. Some have. They wanna cut it out, but here's what Jesus said. He said his return is gonna be a day of vengeance. His return is gonna be a day of vindication. His return is gonna be a day of just punishment. His return will be a day of controlled judgment. His return is going to be a day of perfect righteousness. His return is going to be a day of perfectly exacting judgment and punishment.
Listen, you and I know that a faithful and a good judge, and God blessed us in this church with some of them here, always gives the exact punishment to fit the crime, and they don't wink at crime. But just think about this, how perfect and holy Jesus is as a judge. You see, on that day, not one single person who hated Jesus, persecuted his followers, not one is going to say, "That is not fair. I did not get a fair shake in this. This is not right". Not one. Everybody's gonna stand there, especially those who have rejected him, and those who persecuted the believers, and those who refused to believe that he is the only way to heaven are gonna say, "I got my fair justice. I got my just reward. I deserve this".
That's what's gonna happen in the last days. It's not gonna be like today, everybody complaining, "Oh, it's not fair. This is not fair. My rights," and all that. No, no, no, on that day, all of those who harassed the believers, harassed the followers of the Lord Jesus, they're gonna say, "I got my just deserves". Bill Marr, who's constantly mocking Christians and mocking Christ, unless he repents, on that day, he's gonna look up and say, "I got my just reward". The third question that Paul answers here, what form of punishment will this take place? Look at verse 9. "They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power".
If you have your Bible, if you don't even, you can go ahead and mark the church Bible. You can put a circle around the word "destruction," because that word does not mean annihilation. It does not mean that at all, so when we think of destruction like, you know, these storms that they just destroy. A house will be there and it disappears. That's total destruction. That's not what it means here. It's not gonna just, they're not gonna just disappear. It does not mean that they will be demolished and gone. It does not mean that their suffering is gonna come to an end and that they're gonna vanish somehow. In fact, they will be longing to vanish. They really will. They will be longing if they can disappear. They will be longing, but what's gonna happen is what the word here means is that they're gonna lose everything that makes existence worthwhile.
These lost people will not cease to exist, they will experience forever life of hopelessness, emptiness, and meaninglessness. Their life will have no value, no purpose, and no hope. While they will be paying for their rejection of Christ, for insulting his followers, his believers are gonna be blessed and rewarded for eternity. Verse 10, "On that day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at," and be marveled at, "among all those who have believed". And then Paul goes into the Thessalonians and says, "This is including you," and I believe it's not a stretch of the text to say that's including every believer today. "This is including you, because you believed your testimony to you".
According to Philippians 3:21, we will have bodies like Jesus' body after the resurrection. Our character is gonna be Christ-like. It's not something to be praying for, and longing for, and singing about. We will have it. We will have the character be Christ-like. We will be glorified in us and we in him. Now, let me give you a Youssef translation, what Paul is really trying to say here, okay? Here's what it means. We're gonna look at each other on that day. The believers are gonna look at each other and say, "Can you believe this? Did you ever imagine it's like this in your wildest imagination"? That's really what he's trying to tell you. I'm just trying to put him in a vernacular.
"Did you ever think it'll be that fantastic? Did you ever think it'll be that incredible? Did you ever imagine how wonderful it is"? And we say, "No, not in even our wildest imagination". And then in verses 11 and 12, he says, Paul is praying that they'll always be encouraged by that day, that they'll always be encouraged and encourage one another. Beloved, we must always, always pray for one another as we look forward to that day to come. Even as we labor, even as we serve, even as we give of ourselves, even as we give of our resources, even as we do all that's within our power, every time we have a breath serving him, but we look forward to that day, knowing that day is coming.
Instead of spending your life filled with anger, and bitterness, and thought of revenge, instead of spending your life saying, "Oh, woe me. Look at me," licking your wounds, instead of having a life of bitterness, remind yourself and others of this great day, amen? Spend your life praying and encouraging one another by getting ready for this most awesome, amazing, eternal reigning and ruling with him. In verse 12, he said, "For Jesus must begin to be glorified in us here and now". Let him be glorified in you today. Let him be glorified in your use of your time, be glorified in the use of your resources. Let him be glorified in the use of your testimony. Let him be glorified in the way you deal with people and in relationships. Let me give you an example of how one man learned to turn his bitterness, his desire for revenge, into glorifying Jesus Christ.
And this story is of a man named Jack DeShazer. Jack went to Japan as a missionary, but he went there with the most unusual way. He went via a Japanese prison camp in Shanghai, China. Jacob DeShazer was one of the B-25 pilots who flew in the Doolittle Raid to bomb Japan. And while he was flying, he was forced to ditch his plane and was later captured by the Japanese and imprisoned in Shanghai in a prison camp. He and four other surviving fellow prisoners were treated in the most inhumane, the most incredible torture, and pain, and suffering. They put them on literally a starvation diet. Jacob begged his captors for one thing. That's a Bible. And they gave him a Bible and he began reading the Bible, and 4 weeks later, he gave his life to Christ and became a believer. At that moment, he began to see his captors through new eyes. He began to pray for God to forgive them.
After the war, Jacob, or Jack, returned to the United States and attended Bible college. And when he graduated from Bible college, he felt the Lord literally leading him to go back to Japan and be a missionary. So, in 1948, he went back to Japan, and his message was very simple. He printed a brochure, translated into Japanese, entitled, "I Was Prisoner of War". And he would stand on railway stations and just hand that testimony of his. He hands it out to passengers as they come and go. One day, he was outside Tokyo's Shibuya train station, handing out these Christian leaflets of his testimony. One of the passengers who was coming into that railway station took one of these leaflets from him. It was a man, a Japanese man, by the name of Mitsuo Fuchida. Mitsuo was the only Pearl Harbor pilot who lived through the war.
In fact, Mitsuo was the lead plane in the 350-plane attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. And as he took that brochure and began to read it, the story of Jacob DeShazer, he went out and got a Bible, and began to read the Bible. Later, Mitsuo became one of Japan's great evangelists and led many people to Christ. You see, Jacob DeShazer's revenge was now complete. Isn't it amazing? He had turned a bitter enemy into a Christian brother and evangelist. And so, if I have a word for the believers, let it be that you would ask the Lord, "Lord, how can I turn all the bitter circumstances that I have been through into an opportunity of sharing Christ"? But there may be a person here who has never received that gift of eternal life, never understood what it means to come to Jesus Christ, recognizing that he took all of your sin on the cross. Repent of your sin and receive him as Savior and Lord. That's your first base. That's where you need to start.