I Thess. 5:1-11
Do you ever think about the end of the world? I can tell you the writers of Scripture did. The Day of the Lord is a dominant theme running through the Bible. The second coming of Christ is mentioned hundreds of times in the New Testament, with far more prophecies of His return than His first coming. Nearly every book of the NT deals with the subject. A Christ-centered consummation to human history is coming. It behooves us to know about it and be prepared for it.
Christ’s return is the dominant theme of I Thess. 4-5, with chapter four detailing the “snatching away” of the church event, immediately followed by a discussion of the day of the Lord event. To sum up, the day of the Lord is a short time of God’s wrath followed by a long time of God’s reign over the earth in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Today as we deal with I Thess. 5:1-11, we find two warnings and two promises related to the coming Doomsday. I pray you are ready.
The First Warning: Doomsday comes suddenly to the unprepared.
“Now as to the times and the epochs, brethren, you have no need of anything to be written to you. For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night” (I Thess. 5:1,2; all quotes from NASB, 1995).
This metaphor describes the suddenness of the day of the Lord. It comes unannounced and unexpected, thus most of humanity will be unprepared. But like national security, we must get ready and stay ready. The unbeliever is not ready.
The Second Warning: It brings shocking destruction to the unprepared.
“While they are saying, “Peace and safety!” then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape” (v.3).
Doomsday will interrupt the world’s mantra of “peace and safety, peace and safety, peace and safety …” While the masses are saying “don’t worry, be happy”, “I’m OK, you’re OK” and “If it makes you happy, do it”, then destruction strikes like lightening out of a clear blue sky.
Like Pearl Harbor or 9/11, what comes is great loss of peace and safety and there is no escape.
Even though the world is ripe for judgment, it will still be an utter shock in yet another way sin deceives us.
The discomfort of labor pains will be world-wide, with nowhere to hide. God’s wrath is even now being stored up like a flood behind a stressed dam. The concrete and steel are groaning. The massive flood gates are straining. Only God’s mercy holds back His wrath. But one day His patience will run out, the dam will break and the party will be over.
There is one way to prepare – conversion to Jesus Christ as personal Master and all-sufficient Savior from sin. How does one convert to Christ? By turning from sin and trusting Christ’s death on the cross as payment for your sins, believing in your heart that God raised Him from the dead. Only a risen Savior can truly save. By His Spirit He calls us to die to self, take up His cross and come, follow Him.
For those who have done this, Paul gives them two promises.
The First Promise: Doomsday is no threat to the sons of light.
“But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief; for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness …” (vv.4,5).
Because of who they are, they are ready for the consummation of this age. If you are not surprised by something, then you were expecting it. If you are expecting something, then you become prepared for it. If you are prepared for something, then it’s no threat. The sons of light can look forward to Christ’s return with eagerness. It is no threat to their happiness.
The Second Promise: Doomsday calls sons of light to sober hope, not fear.
“… so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober. For those who sleep do their sleeping at night, and those who get drunk get drunk at night. But since we are of the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation. For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep, we will live together with Him” (vv.6-10).
Because of who you are in Christ, don’t sleep in sin and darkness, dull of heart like the “rest”. Instead keep watch, sober and alert, “looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus …” (Titus 2:13).
Our eschatology should prompt us to live well-balanced, self-controlled lives of readiness, for no one knows the day or the hour. Cinch up your breastplate of faith and love. Strap on your helmet of hope. We are not destined for wrath but for obtaining rescue through our Lord Jesus Christ! As soldiers behind enemy lines, God will evacuate us before He makes war with the world.
So only the believer can really say “peace and safety” because our greatest problem is already solved! Jesus already took God’s wrath in our place on the cross. We are now God’s friends, at peace with Him. As such we will never be the object of His wrath, only objects of His love and infinite grace and this is true safety.
“Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing” (v.11).
Unless otherwise noted, all posts are written by Pastor Chris McKnight