Thursday, June 5, 2014

1Thessalonians 5:1-10: watch and wait

1 ¶  But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you.

2  For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.

3  For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. 4  But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. 5  Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.


The day of the Lord is a reference to a period of time where God enacts judgment on mankind. It is a period of time, not necessarily a day with a morning and an evening. References of such a day begin in Isaiah and are found in Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Joel, Amos, and other prophet’s writings.


Isaiah 2:12  For the day of the LORD of hosts shall be upon every one that is proud and lofty, and upon every one that is lifted up; and he shall be brought low:


Isaiah 13:6  Howl ye; for the day of the LORD is at hand; it shall come as a destruction from the Almighty.


Isaiah 13:9  Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it.


Isaiah 34:8  For it is the day of the LORD’S vengeance, and the year of recompences for the controversy of Zion.


This is after the translation of the church, as Paul continues to give his statements on the end-times. This is the judgment on the world that God has had His prophets predict. It is the, “wrath to come,” that we have been promised that we are delivered from and that John the Baptist warned about.


Luke 3:7  Then said he to the multitude that came forth to be baptized of him, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come?


1Thessalonians 1:10  And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.


This passage goes against those end-times pundits who talk about how bad things are getting. When God’s judgment descends on the earth things will have been going pretty well.


3 For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.


The simile, “as a thief in the night,” underscores how no one is prepared for what is to come. No one is expecting it, further evidence that the Christian churches which are constantly expecting it and talking about it daily will be removed and not be on the scene.

What is coming is a Great Tribulation in preparation for Christ’s physical return to rule from Jerusalem.


Matthew 24:21  For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.


This puts the Great Tribulation as a worse disaster for humanity on earth than the Great Flood of Noah’s time.


Revelation 7:14  And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.


Jesus Himself said of this time;


Matthew 24:22  And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.


Notice that Jesus is talking to his Jewish disciples in Matthew. The third translation, the physical removal of the believing Jews will take place during the Great Tribulation. He shortens the time for their sake. “The elect,” is always a reference to God’s people, Jewish or Gentile, and never a reference to a special group of individuals who were created to be saved while others were created to be damned.


Without going into great detail best left for a study on the book of the Revelation let me just say that Paul now exhorts the Thessalonians to not act as unbelieving Gentiles act. They are not of the night or of darkness. They are to act, not like world, concerned with only their own little plans and problems day to day but with the greater concern as the world’s end is ahead.


6 ¶  Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. 7  For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. 8  But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. 9  For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, 10  Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.


In the uses of the word, “sleep,” in this letter we have not only a euphemism for physical death but for those who are spiritually dead. Notice the contrast between sleep and sober alertness.


Perhaps the spiritual night of the world began when Judas left to betray Christ.


John 13:30  He then having received the sop went immediately out: and it was night.


As Paul uses night-time to refer to this present dispensation. The way the Bible is written the expectations and hopes of the writers are revealed as in Paul really wanted the Lord to return in his life-time, and this method of writing also makes the verses relevant to Christians at any time in this dispensation of the Gentile and Jewish church age. Christ’s coming could have happened and at any time and could happen at any time. The night was far spent in Paul’s time and the morning of the Lord’s return is something that could happen at any moment.


Romans 13:11 ¶  And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. 12  The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. 13  Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying.


Sleepiness and drunkenness are the opposites of being watchful and sober. The unbeliever and the carnal Christian do not expect Christ’s return at any moment as they simply expect things to go on as they have before. They are busy planning for their future, entertainment, career, possession of homes, cars, and stuff, as well as their retirement. Like a drunk staggering down the street thinking of the next drink there is no realization that at any moment the trumpet may sound and the person who has trusted Christ as his Saviour and Redeemer will be carried away and the world system will be judged.


Using pieces of armor to represent spiritual attitudes is present elsewhere in the Bible.


Isaiah 59:17  For he put on righteousness as a breastplate, and an helmet of salvation upon his head; and he put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, and was clad with zeal as a cloke.


Ephesians 6:10 ¶  Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. 11  Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12  For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. 13  Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14  Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; 15  And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16  Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. 17  And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: 18  Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;


In verse 9 Paul points out that the church is not appointed to wrath. Remember chapter one, verse 10.


1Thessalonians 1:10  And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.


Something really bad is going to happen to the world but those who trust Christ will not have to endure it. What we are to expect is salvation, that whether living or dead when He comes, we will live with Him. Reading and studying this letter makes you less and less interested in this life and more and more excited about the one to come, doesn’t it?

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