1 Thessalonians 5:1-11
The day of the Lord will come when many are caught unaware. In Christ, however, we are aware, like people who have woken up in the daylight, and we can choose faith, love and the hope of salvation rather than judgment.
1 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.
- The Book of Amos is essentially a warning about the Day of the Lord, a day of judgment. At any time – no one can know the day or time – Christ will return and there will be both joy and judgment – joy as He claims His own, and judgment on others.
3 While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labour 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.
- At a time of year when days are short and nights long, we adapt to driving and walking in the dark, not seeing much around us. We don’t expect to see beyond where we are. That’s the danger in view here: not so much the not seeing, but the not expecting to see.
5 You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness.
- Children of the light, therefore born into the light. This only comes by a new spiritual birth.
6 So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober.
- It is sometimes said, we are either walking towards Christ, or walking away from Him. It is one or the other – there isn’t a fence to sit on. Choosing to walk towards Him is looking to Him, awake and sober and belonging to the light.
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.
- Paul uses this expression in writing to the church in Ephesus about holy attitudes which are our spiritual protection – including our awareness of choosing to think in a positive way as those who are receiving salvation Ephesians 6:17
9 For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.
- It is worth noting that in the much-debated matter of how we understand the tribulation, or the Day of the Lord, this is neverin Scripture associated with the church. There is a wide diversity of views about what how tribulation will play out and its direction. However, from this verse (v.9) it is safe to conclude that we who belong to Jesus, part of His body on earth, are appointed to salvation, not tribulation.
- The early church were aware of two things with great clarity: God’s wrath is real and deserved, but at the same time those who are in Christ Jesus are receiving His grace, not awaiting His wrath. They were truly thankful for salvation! Our culture tends to play down God’s wrath – and therefore reduces the high value of God’s gracious action in giving us a salvation we could not earn. To empty God’s wrath of its content is to rob the Christian life of much of its joy and purpose.
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.
This teaching for the Thessalonian church reinforces for us the choice we are given if we are truly the Lord’s. We have been given free will, to respond to God’s love or not; to do what pleases Him or to do what pleases us. That choice is gently guided by the Holy Spirit. We need to be awake and alert to follow His leading and be aware of His prompting.
The Old Testament passages paint a stark picture of God’s holiness contrasted with man’s selfish and willful nature. Here, in Paul writing to a church of Spirit-filled, Spirit-led believers the emphasis is on choosing what we know to be right in God’s sight.
In our world we face constant temptations to worship things that should not take our attention away from God, and our flesh nature will try to pull us off track. However, we have the Holy Spirit, depicted in Scripture as a dove, and needing some alertness on our part to discern and to follow on the right path.
Jesus may return at any time. Will He find us in faith, building His kingdom, and aware of our responsibility to make good choices for Him? We don’t have to look for the effects of His wrath and judgment – but we are strongly reminded, we always have the choice, to find our own way: or to make the choice to ‘follow the dove’ and walk toward Jesus.