I Thess. 5 | Like A Thief In The Night

For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord
will come like a thief in the night. 1 Thessalonians 5:2

No other event has captured people’s attention like the second coming of Christ. Countless books and articles have been written on this topic. It has been discussed and debated from pulpits, Sunday school classes, television programs, and the list goes on. Denominations and non-denominations have debated the events surrounding the second coming of Christ. What is not disputed among the church today is that Christ will return for His bride. We have all thought about this great event, and even put ourselves into the equation in some form or another. Things like: “Will I die before Christ’s return?” “What do I want to accomplish here on earth before Christ’s return?”  I remember having a conversation with a dear friend of ours. She said, “I hope to experience being a grandmother before the Lord comes back!”  If we are honest, we have all had these types of thoughts of what we would like to experience before Jesus returns.

Another aspect of Christ’s return is the amount of time scholars devote to try to pinpoint when this event will occur. I recently saw a YouTube link someone posted on a Facebook advertisement for a praise and worship conference. This conference had nothing to do with end times, but somebody took the opportunity to post a link to a YouTube video explaining when the Lord will return. He started his post with a question like so many others: “Could this theologian have unlocked the mystery of when the Lord will return?”  The video looked professionally done and short so my curiosity got the best of me and I watched the 15-minute video. This theologian went beyond predicting the “day” or “hour” but tried to prove the very “second” Jesus would return. He said it would be during the 2017 Feast of Trumpets at the stroke of midnight. I bet now this theologian wishes he would have spent this time doing something else other than spending all the countless hours of work he put into producing this video. But I know these types well, he left an “exception clause” a back door of escape and is probably working on the second edition now.

While these theologians work on correcting the errors and mathematical equations of their previous work, what instructions does Paul have for the rest of us in his first epistle to the Thessalonians? The Thessalonians had questions concerning the Lord’s return. Questions like, “How about those who have already died?” And “What events will be taking place?” But before Paul addresses any of their questions, he says “you have no need to have anything written to you” and “you are already fully aware” how the Lord will come.

Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers,

you have no need to have anything written to you.

For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord

will come like a thief in the night.

1 Thessalonians 5:1-2

 

How would they have already known? Did somebody already tell them? Have they figured it out by themselves?  I believe the answer to our questions are found in verse 4 of chapter 5. But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. 1 Thessalonians 5:4

The reasons given by the Apostle Paul in the following verses on why they won’t be surprised are:

  • We are children of light
  • We are not of the night or darkness
  • Keep awake and be sober
  • Put on the breastplate of faith and love and the helmet of salvation
  • Christ hasn’t destined us to wrath, but to salvation
  • Whether we are awake or asleep (dead) we are with him

I believe what Paul is saying is that for the Christian, we will know. Christ has placed in us His Holy Spirit that cries Abba Father. We know on this glorious day, when we are caught up in the air with our brothers and sisters in Christ, we will be with the Lord forever! Paul instructs us to encourage one another with these words.

In the meantime, Paul has given us some practical instructions on how to conduct ourselves:

  • Respect leaders (church elders)
  • Admonish (warn, reprimand, advise or urge) the idle (or undisciplined) to work
  • Encourage the faint-hearted (persecuted or those grieving for loved ones)
  • Help the weak
  • Be patient with those listed above (remember patience is a fruit of the spirit)
  • Don’t pay evil for evil
  • Do good to one another and to everyone
  • Rejoice always
  • Pray without ceasing
  • Give thanks in all circumstances
  • Don’t quench the Spirit
  • Don’t despise prophecies
  • Test everything
  • Hold onto what is good
  • Abstain from every form of evil

Whew! That should keep us busy! As Paul did at the end of 1 Thessalonians chapter 3, he closes chapter 5 with a beautiful pastoral prayer.

Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely,

and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless

at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful;

he will surely do it.

1 Thessalonians 5:23-24

May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you!

2 Comments

  1. Thanks for this Barry. It is always a good reminder to keep ourselves out of the weeds and focused on what is most important.

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