THE BOOK OF 1 THESSALONIANS
The Day of the Lord is coming so be watchful
1 Thessalonians 5:1-5 SCC June 15, 2014
INFORMED BELIEVERS HAVE KNOWLEDGE ABOUT DETAILS OF THE END TIMES 1
1. God has definite plans for the future judgment
Okay now as to the times and to the seasons Here is a reference to future periods of eschatological fulfillment just as Jesus pointed out in Acts 1:7. Both Jesus and Paul had taught about the chronological periods (“times,” an extended period) and the major features of those periods (“epochs,” a definite period) that lay ahead in the future.
2. These plans should be well known by believers
brothers and sisters, you have no need for anything to be written to you Paul reminds the Thessalonians that they are well taught when it comes to end-times doctrine. So just like Jesus with his disciples (Matt. 24:44; Mark 13; Luke 21) Paul too taught prophecy and prophetic timelines and prophetic periods of time to his disciples. Specifically, Paul has taught them about “the day of the Lord.” The day of the Lord is that future time when God will judge the world and punish the nations.
THE DETAILS INCLUDE EVENTS RELATED TO THE INAGURATION OF THE DAY OF THE LORD 2-3
1. The details of the ‘day of the Lord’ should be learned as part of the discipling process 2
The reason no need for writing on subject is Thessalonians have this knowledge accurately already
The day of the Lord is the period of time in the future when the Lord will intervene in the events of this earth to consummate his redemption and his judgment (Isa 2:11-12; 13:6-13; Ezek 30:3; Joel 1:15; 2:32; 3:18; Amos 5:18-20; Obad 15-17; Zeph 1:7-18; 2:2-3; Zech 14:1, 13, 20-21; Mal 4:1, 5; 1 Cor 1:8; 5:5; 2 Cor 1:14; 2 Thess 2:2; 2 Pet 3:10). It includes both blessings and curses, though the latter is emphasized here. Scripture uses the term in a broad sense (the Tribulation and the Millennium) and a narrow sense (the return of Christ). This day will be a time when God will pour out His wrath on unbelievers (vv. 3-9).
The Day of the Lord is a period of time in which God will deal with wicked men directly and dramatically in fearful judgment. Today a man may be a blasphemer of God, an atheist, can denounce God and teach bad doctrine. Seemingly God does nothing about it. But the day designated in Scripture as “the day of the Lord” is coming when God will punish human sin, and He will deal in wrath and in judgment with a Christ-rejecting world. One thing we are sure of, that God in His own way will bring every soul into judgment.
2. The events relating to inauguration of this day include 2b-3:
(a). that the day of lord comes like a thief in the night
The manner in which this coming proceeds is in such a way as a thief coming at night—unexpected or unanticipated or coming to take something by breaking in. This imagery emphasizes the fact that the “Day of the Lord” is unexpected; it catches the unbeliever completely by surprise. A thief in the night emphasizes the fact that unbelievers don’t expect the “Day of the Lord” to come. Jesus used a thief coming at night as an illustration of the unexpected and hostile nature of the coming of God’s judgment in the future. This is repeated in various ways in v. 4; 2 Pet 3:10; Rev 3:3; 16:15.
So apparently Paul had specifically and comprehensively taught this revelation to them.
Is it really important to teach believers prophecy? Often it is ignored as part of discipleship. Unnecessary and speculative and irrelevant to the bigger issues of trying to cope; get by; tolerate; feed the poor and social justice. Paul majors on prophecy. Why? We are all accountable to God. Prophecy is important to God. It tells us the kind of God he is. What’s that? That he has plans and ends and purposes and outcomes and he is sovereign and just and true and holy. Is it possible Satan is deceiving many here with an emphasis on social gospel and do gooderisms and tolerance as love rather than on apostolic emphasis of eternal rewards, spiritual maturity, sanctification and holiness, conformity to Christ? I believe so.
The trouble with thieves is that they do not tell us when they are coming. It is not their habit to send a warning postcard. The same unexpectedness or surprise will characterize the day of the Lord. And it is also irreversible. Once started the birth will happen and so to the Day of the Lord comes.
(b). that it will be whenever they are continually saying, “there is peace and security”
Evidently the occasion for the false sense of security felt then will be the Antichrist’s signing of a covenant with Israel. That signing will set the stage for a period of unprecedented destruction even though it will be the signing of a peace treaty.
(c). that then sudden destruction comes upon them similar to labor pains
It will be much like a pregnant woman’s delivery, which observers can anticipate by her appearance. Jesus even compared the unprecedented arrival of the ‘Day of the Lord’ as a period like labor pains (Matt 24:8). There comes a point where the woman has to make a mad dash for the maternity wing of the local hospital.
In the same way, during the day of the Lord, times will be frightfully bad—but to add fuel to the raging fire—they will escalate out of hand rapidly. Yet, in the midst of this, the world will be declaring peace and security. So prioritized teaching on the end-times is so that you will be both prepared and motivated.
(d). that they will not at all escape this terrible carnage
This is the strongest way to negative something in Greek. It is the most decisive way of negating something in the future. This rules out even the idea as being a possibility! No one living on the earth then will in any way (double negative for emphasis in the Greek text) escape the turmoil to follow. They cannot escape it any more than a pregnant woman can escape delivering her child.
THIS DAY IS NOT FOR BELIEVERS BECAUSE WE ARE OF ANOTHER REALM 4-5
1. Believers are not overtaken by this day 4
Okay now you, brothers and sisters, are not in the darkness
Christians, of course, do not know when the Day of the Lord is coming either. As far as expectation is concerned, they are in the dark about it. Christ could come today and the Day of the Lord would follow, but no one can set the day. It is unexpected in this sense for us.
so that the day overtakes you like a thief would
The best explanation is that we will not be here. When the Day of the Lord comes, we will be in glory. In other words, we belong to a different dispensation, to a different day. We belong to the day of grace. Why should a child of God’s grace—who is saved by grace, who is kept by grace, who has all the promises of God—be forced to go through a period, which according to Scripture is expressly designed as a time of judgment upon a Christ-rejecting world? We belong to the day; they belong to the night.
2. Believers are of another realm not destined for this Day 5
(a). The reason they will not be overtaken is because for you all are sons of the light and sons of the day
The study of prophecy is not just for prophecy’s sake. God has taught us concerning future things, because He wants us to be informed, and being informed to be better Christians. One of the reasons for presenting the doctrine of the imminent return of Christ is that it is an impelling motive to be living for Him every day. There is no better reason for working for Christ; to be conformed to the image of Christ; and to pursue our own sanctification, than the motive that we may see Him today.
It makes a tremendous difference whether Christ is coming now or whether our prospect is that we will go through the tribulation and our only hope of seeing Him without dying would be to go through that awful time of trouble. So this figurative and compressed language connotes more than merely ‘sons who dwell in the light’ but ‘sons characterized by light’. In this case what characterized the Thessalonians was the light (in contrast to darkness) and day (in contrast to night).
(b). Nor of the darkness
God had removed the Thessalonians from Satan’s kingdom of darkness and placed them into God’s kingdom of light. The issue is not where they are but who they are. We are “of day” because Christ has given us new life. We are lights in the world (Matt 5:14) because He is the “light of the world” (John 1:1-9; 8:12; 9:5). Jesus was the light as long as He was on the earth. In the same way, God characterizes us according to our nature. We are not in darkness, but are sons and daughters of light and sons and daughters of day. That is our identity and destiny. Stop living your life thinking and prioritizing it according to this realm. Those in that realm are destined for wrath and destruction. It may be that the world is not dark because of all the evil but because so few Christians are giving off light. God illumines Christians but we are often guilty of hiding our light under a basket (Matt 5:15).
1. Since the coming of the “Day of the Lord” is certain, and since we cannot know its precise timing, we must be ever watchful and waiting.
2. We must continue in the process of sanctification, as God purifies us and prepares us for the day of His return.
3. If we become too attached to this life and to this world, we will be inclined to think and to act as the world does regarding His return. Worldliness will desensitize us to the certain reality of the “Day of the Lord.”
4. We should pray because we see here how Satan blinds the minds of unbelievers regarding the certainty of eternal judgment and the blessed offer of eternal salvation through faith in Jesus. Unbelievers will be caught by surprise in the “Day of the Lord” because they feel safe and secure in their unbelief.