Also available as MP3: 2 Thessalonians 1:9-12 – The Source of Destruction
The destruction at the Second Coming of Christ will come “from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power” (v.9). It is called “everlasting” destruction because after the flames destroy the Lord’s enemies they will ignite the lake of fire (Deut.32:22). Hell is in the center of the earth (Mt.12:40), and the Lord went to the comfort side when He died, known as paradise (Lu.16:19-31 cf. 23:43). But after the Lord paid for the sins of the people in paradise it was moved to heaven (IICor.12:4) and the torment side of hell is the only place left in the heart of the earth. The flames of the Second Coming will make it an open pit as the fire rises to the bottoms of the mountains (Deut.32:22).
We know Deuteronomy 32:22 is about the Second Coming because the previous verse predicts how God would use the foolish nation of the little flock to provoke Israel to jealous-y (v.21 cf. Mt.23:43 cf. Lu.12:32; IPe.2:9,10). It worked (Mt.27:17,18), but God hoped it would provoke them to re-pent and believe, not crucify the Lord. But God knew they wouldn’t, so He predicted the fire of the Second Coming would come next (Deut.32:22). The lake of fire was “pre-pared” for “the king” (Isa.30:33), i.e., the devil (Mt.25:41).
When the Lord comes in flaming fire God will advise the unsaved to hide “for fear of the Lord, and for the glory of His majesty” (Isa.2:10,19,21). Doesn’t that sound like Paul’s description of the destruction that will come “from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power”? The lost will see Him come “with power and great glory” (Mt.24:30).
The unsaved will be “afraid” but also “surprised” (Isa.33: 14), especially unsaved Jewish “brethren” who’ll think the Lord is “glorified” in them during the Tribulation (Isa.66:5) But the Lord will “come to be glorified in His saints” (IIThes.1:10). When He judges the lost and spares the saved He’ll be glorified in His saints “in Israel” (Isa.44:23).
But Paul says He’ll also be “admired in all them that believe” in that day because his testimony “was believed” (IITh.1:10). This is where we come in! When God spares us the fire of the Second Coming with the pre-trib Rapture the Lord will be glorified in us too. Remember how Paul worked us into Israel’s promise of vengeance (Isa.49:25 cf. IITh.1:5,6)? Here he works us into God’s promise to be glorified in His saints in Israel.
Paul prays God will count us worthy of being spared this wrath (IITh.1:11). In his first letter he begged the Thessa-lonians to walk worthy of this calling (2:11,12), which is what grace is all about. The Colossians had the Lord, Paul exhorted them to walk worthy of Him (Col.1:9,10), the Thessalonians had the hope of the pre-trib rapture, Paul prayed they’d walk worthy of it. But in his second epistle he prayed God would count them worthy of it by rapturing them before the Tribulation.
But if the pre-trib rapture was a sure thing, why’d Paul pray for it? He was praying according to the revealed will of God, as he did in IThessalonians 5:23,24. Hezekiah did too (IIKi.20:1-5), reminding God of His promise in IKings 2:4 that he couldn’t die childless since he’d been good. God hadn’t forgotten the promise, He wanted to see if Hezekiah would remember it and pray for it. He delights when we pray according to His will, and that’s what Paul is doing in praying God will count them worthy of the pre-trib rapture.
This will “fulfill all the good pleasure of His will” (IIThes. 1:11). His “good pleasure” for Israel concerned Jerusalem (Ps. 51:18) in the kingdom (Lu.12:32). The Lord taught the Jews to pray for this (Mt.6:10). His good pleasure for us is the pre-trib rapture, and Paul prayed for it. He also prayed God would fulfill “the work of faith with power, i.e., the work of His faithfulness (cf.Col.2:12) in rapturing us with power.
When the Lord keeps His promise to rapture us before the Tribulation, He will be glorified in us (IITh.1:12). God is always glorified when he keeps His promises! He will be glorified in Israel when He keeps His promises to her, but He’ll also be glorified in us when He keeps His promises to us.