1 Thessalonians 5:1-4 Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you. 2 For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3 While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. 4 But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief.
There is consistent teaching throughout the New Testament concerning the fact that Jesus Christ will come again! Jesus himself promised, more than once, that he would be coming back. In some of his last teaching to his disciples he stated, “I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also” (John 14:3). On the Isle of Patmos, John saw the Revelation. In the very beginning we are told that “he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him” (Revelation 1:7). We should join with John in saying “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20).
One thing we can be absolutely certain of is…
The day of the Lord is coming. Let’s look at the words of the Lord Jesus found in Luke 17:22-24. And he said to the disciples, “The days are coming when you will desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it. 23 And they will say to you, ‘Look, there!’ or ‘Look, here!’ Do not go out or follow them. 24 For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in his day.
God, in his own time and in his own way, will bring the world to its appropriate end. The promise of Scripture is that Jesus will return personally and visibly in glory to the earth. When he does the dead will be raised and Christ will judge all men in righteousness. The unbelievers will be sent to hell which is a place of everlasting punishment. The believers in Christ, in their glorified bodies, will receive their reward and dwell forever in Heaven with the Lord.
Remember it was Jesus who said, “And they will say to you, ‘Look, here!’ Do not go out or follow them.” (Luke 17:23) I urge you not to go after these people who claim they know when Jesus is coming again. There is great danger in getting caught up in the WHEN while losing sight of the WHY!
Bible believers have the word of God and, though we cannot know everything about the future, God knows everything! In the Scriptures he has told us about the major events yet to come in the history of the universe. We can be absolutely certain these events are going to happen because God is never wrong and God never lies.
In the words of Jesus…
It will be a surprise to most people. Let’s continue with Luke 17:26-29. Just as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of Man. 27 They were eating and drinking and marrying and being given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. 28 Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot—they were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building, 29 but on the day when Lot went out from Sodom, fire and sulfur rained from heaven and destroyed them all—
Jesus gives us an insight into what was going on in the days of Noah. While Noah and his sons were building an ark the world around them was going on with their everyday tasks. They were eating and drinking. They were marrying and being given in marriage. We can assume from that description that they were not paying much attention to Noah and his family. The ark to be constructed was a very large venture for four men. I assume, and I realize that is dangerous, that they employed workers. What did their workmen think about what was going on? Did they think of the Ark is a huge oddity? Did they consider it as having some strange meaning? I believe, according to Genesis 6, the period of time spent in Ark building was 120 years. At least that is the period of time God said his Spirit would abide with man.
The other example Jesus used was the days of Lot! When we read the account in Genesis we see that the people of Sodom were busy with their normal activities. They were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building and threatening Lot’s houseguests! They were totally unaware of the disaster that was about to happen! Fire and sulfur rained from heaven and destroyed them all as soon as Lot was out of danger.
Using these examples we can see that when Christ returns…
Life will be going on. Jesus described the scene for us in Matthew 24:38-41. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, 39 and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left.
Again we look at the situation in the days of Noah. Life was going on day by day. And then Jesus said that Noah entered the ark and the people of the earth were unaware of their situation until the flood came and swept them all away.
In the same manner people will be about their day-to-day activities when Christ comes again. Two men will be working in a field. The believer in the Lord Jesus Christ will be taken and the unbeliever will be left. Luke adds to the account that two people will be in one bed. One will be taken and the other left. He speaks of daytime activities and nighttime activities going on at the same time. We know that when it is day for us in the Western Hemisphere it is night in the Eastern Hemisphere. That could be a simple explanation of Jesus’ description.
The people of earth will be unaware until Jesus appears in the air and calls his people. We do not know the day or the hour.
There is a great danger in following a leader who claims to know when Jesus is going to return. In fact, I would say that anyone who claims to know specifically when Jesus is coming back is automatically wrong! Many people have been deceived by groups like the Jehovah’s Witnesses only to find that the day comes and goes with nothing particular happening. Meanwhile people have begun to withdraw from long-term commitments. They might take their children out of school. They might sell their houses and make other life altering decisions based on these false claims.
Bible believers agree that Christ is coming again and that there will be judgment of unbelievers and a final reward of believers. We believe that believers will live with Christ in the new heaven and a new earth forever. God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit will rule and be worshiped in a never-ending kingdom. There will be no sin or sorrow or suffering.
And by the way we do not even know the month or the season no matter how people will try to explain to you that they do. We are left enough hope in Scripture that we will have some grasp on what is happening. The Bible tells us that…
We are not in the dark. Let’s return to 1 Thessalonians 5:5. For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness.
Many people take this, and other passages, to mean that we will not go through any kind of tribulation period. I take it to mean only what it says. We are not in the dark about the things God is doing in the world. And…
Since we are light we should be alert. Let’s continue to read 1 Thessalonians 5:6-8. So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, are drunk at night. 8 But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation.
Since we belong to the day and are light in the world we need to use the light we have to draw others towards Jesus Christ. We know that Jesus is the light of the world and since we follow him we will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life (John 8:12). That light in us comes from Jesus. Because he is the true source of light (John 9:5 and John 1:4-5). The purpose of the light is to give us day-to-day direction according to Scripture and cause us to be attractive to people who are still in the dark.
The Bible teaches us that we are to maintain a good report with those who are on the outside. We are to maintain such positive relationships that the outsiders will listen to us when we bear witness to Christ. God created mankind to glorify himself. And the light of Jesus Christ in us is part of that glory. We were created to enjoy God and delight in him! In order to do that…
We must focus on Jesus’ revelation. Let’s check out the words of Peter found in 1 Peter 1:13-15. Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct,
While we’re waiting on Christ to return we have a responsibility. We need to clear the battlefield which is our mind. I don’t know if you’ve noticed -- but I certainly have -- the enemy uses all kinds of influence around us to affect our mind. The result is confusion and backsliding.
Peter is in full agreement with Paul on the subject. We are to be transformed by the renewal of our minds rather than being conformed to the world (Romans 12:2). So a part of our preparation for battle is to be sober minded. We are to stay away from foolish thoughts and worldly ways. We have a responsibility to allow Christ to control our minds because our warfare is not won by our strength but it is won by divine power that destroys the enemy strongholds (2 Corinthians 10:4). We are to be obedient to Christ and live a holy life set apart to him.
Our Lord Jesus who lives in us is the light of the world and we have a responsibility to push back the darkness and bring in the light.
We should not be concerned about whether we will be successful…
Since we have spiritual armor. Let’s return to 1 Thessalonians 5:8-9. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. 9 For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,
In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, Chapter 6, he discussed in more detail the whole armor of God. Here in 1 Thessalonians he gives us the shortened version. Since we are light we should be acting like light. We are to be steady and sober. Our breastplate, that covers our vital spiritual organs, are faith and love. Our helmet is the hope of salvation.
In our modern world we have a problem with the word “hope” because of the way it is used today. One might say, “I hope it doesn’t rain today”, or, “I hope I win the lottery”. There are many other ways that we might use the word. Most of them would not have anything to do with what we surely expect. The words “hope of salvation” do not mean that we do not know if we are saved.
Biblically, “hope is the confident expectation, the sure certainty that what God has promised in the Word is true, has occurred, and or will in accordance with God’s sure Word.” (Bible.org) Since we have this hope…
We should encourage one another. Now let’s read 1 Thessalonians 2:11-12. For you know how, like a father with his children, 12 we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.
We live in a very pessimistic world. We are surrounded by so much wrong! Most people that we deal with are not very happy or encouraged. They live in the dark. But since we are light in this world we have great confidence that God will do what he says he will. Therefore we are able to encourage one another. This evil world is going to come to an end. Our Lord is coming and we can rejoice in that. As a part of our encouragement of each other we should live a life that is obviously filled with hope. If indeed we have hope in Christ then we have confidence that our Lord will come for us.
As we can see, several passages teach us that we cannot know the time when Christ will return. Be very careful with anyone who wants to tell you that they know when he will return. We have seen cult groups, like the Jehovah’s Witnesses, prophesy again and again dates that failed. All Christians who take the Bible as their final authority agree that Christ will return and the world we live in will one day come to an end! In the meantime we should rest in the promises he has given. And be prepared! Have you placed your faith in him? Today can be your day.
All scriptures quotes are from: The Holy Bible: English standard version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.