Scriptures: 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11
“Now, brothers and sisters, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, 2 for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3 While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.
4 But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. 5 You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. 6 So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. 8 But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. 9 For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. 10 He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. 11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
Paul wrote this letter to the church in Thessalonica for the purpose of
- Expressing his joy in their steadfast faith and perseverance in the midst of persecution (1Thessalonians 3:9)
- to instruct them further in holiness and godly living ( 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8)
- Lastly to clarify certain beliefs concerning the status of believers who die before Christ returns.( 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14)
Prior to this texts, Paul also reminded them about the coming of the Lord that those who are dead in Christ will rise first, and after that we who are still alive and are left will be “caught up” together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, to be with the Lord forever. (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17) – This is what commonly known to us Christians as “Rapture”
Now, brothers and sisters, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, 2 for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3 While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.
The New Testament teaches Christ could return at any moment. It is an imminent event, there are only two words to described it, certainty and uncertainty!
Certainty because none of the word of God fails. (Luke 1:37) and no plans and purpose of God can be thwarted (Job 42:2) Imminence in relation to the rapture has been defined as consisting of three elements: “the certainty that He may come at any moment, the uncertainty of the time of that arrival, Uncertain because “About that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father ( Matthew 24:36) and the fact that no prophesied event stands between the believer and that hour.
Apostle Peter in 2 Peter 3:10 echoes what Paul says “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. And Jesus himself spoke in Revelation 3:3 “I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you. Thieves don’t signal that they are coming. The day of the Lord will be like that. It will come at an unexpected time.
I remember when I got saved at a young age, and our church did a series of film showing for Evangelistic purposes, the title of the movie series is “Thief in the Night” it was very old movie in 1970’s and am watching it in late 1980’s I was still in highs school, as a newly Christian it was kind a scary thought to be left behind, my older cousin who is actively involved in the ministry in the church even made a joke about it after we finished watching. He told me if we ever to ride a plane, that we should ask the pilot first if he is Christian because if he will be caught up then who will fly the plane?
Now the questions are, how will it happen? The Scriptures says suddenly! As labor pain in pregnant woman, meaning it is an expected event to happen but no specific indications when.
“In a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. (1 Corinthians 15:52)
Paul here is talking about the coming of the Lord for His saints, Jesus will not descend to earth but will meet the Church in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:17) It is a distinctive events apart from His second coming, when Jesus will come back together with His saints “Look, he is coming with the clouds,” and “every eye will see him, even those who pierced him”(Revelation 1:7)
Are there any signs? Is there any particular event that will mark or signal when it will happen? How about the signs of the end-times in the Bible? (Matthew 24:5-8) wars and rumors of war, famine, earthquakes, great apostasy? Again Jesus says, No one knows!
As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; 39 and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. 41 Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left. (Matthew 24:37 -41)
So there are no particular or significant times and signs, it will happen as if everybody is doing their usual things to do. Paul reminded us, although the time is uncertain, we should not be surprised or be caught off- guard, “But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. 5 You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness.
As we all know, light and darkness in the Bible is a metaphor for good and evil. Paul here is telling us that we should not be afraid or fearful because we are not in darkness but we are children of Light. And as a children of Light, we walk in the light and truth, and should no longer walk in the futility of our mind with darkened understanding (Ephesians 4:17-24) nor engaging ourselves in the in the worthless and unproductive deeds of darkness. (Ephesians 5:11) For God himself called us into fellowship with His Son Jesus, the Light of the world (John 8:12) takes us out darkness into His marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9) and no matter how great is the darkness that surrounds us, it will not overcome or encompass the Light in us.
We are living indeed in perilous times, but as children of Light, who live and stands on the promises of God we have hope and the blessed assurance that because Jesus lives and that one day He will come again to take us with Him. “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God]; believe also in me. 2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” (John 14:1-3)
Jesus is coming back! And it should be a joyful event not a dreadful one for a true believer in Christ Jesus. Those early Christian in the Bible, they thought of Jesus coming back is soon with expectations that it will happen in their lifetime because of the circumstances that they are all going through. And I believe as a Christian in this generation we should think likewise.
What shall we do while waiting for the coming of the Lord?
- Don’t look for a sign, but look for the Savior!
Titus 2:13 “Looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus;”
John 14:6 “Jesus, I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
As I understood there is a quite differences in some of the churches when it comes to when the Rapture should take place. Some believed in Pre-tribulation, others in Mid-tribulation and lastly Post-tribulation.
But as what the Scriptures we read today, For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. The book of Revelation describes the last days as a time when the “wrath of God” is poured upon the whole earth. – (Revelation chapters 8,9 and 16) the tribulations and the great tribulations such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. Matthew 24: 21-33
- Wait patiently in continuous expectations – Be patient, therefore, brethren, until the coming of the Lord, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. James 5:7-9
- So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober.
Paul means that believers much live in a state of spiritual readiness—ready to meet spiritual challenges—ready to ward-off the tempter—ready to defend the faith.
It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the middle of the night or toward daybreak. 39 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. 40 You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” “
Like the parable of the five wise virgins who took oil in jars along with their lamps, when the Bridegroom was a long time in coming, they still have enough oil to lighten up their lamp. (Matthew 25:1-13)
- Armed ourselves with the Truth- Word of God
“Stand therefore, having girded your loins with truth and having put on the breastplate of righteousness. (Ephesians 6:14) “For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.(Matthew 24:5)
Let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet.
Be sober, Paul calls these believers to the kind of behavior that is consistent with their identity—who they are in Christ Jesus, They are “of the day,” so they should be sober—should maintain self-control and exercise sound judgment.
- Consecrate ourselves “And everyone who has this hope upon him purifies himself, just as he is pure. (1 John 3:3)
“That you keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ,” 1 Timothy 6:14
- Built each other up – Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. Let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds. (Hebrews 10:24) speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. Ephesians 4:15
Revelation 22:17, 20–“And the Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who hears say, ‘Come.“He who testifies to these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming quickly.’
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.”- Maranatha!!!