Summary: According to Paul, Christians are to live constantly aware of the return of Christ Jesus.
Awake and Sober – I Thessalonians 5:1-11
Intro: First the tsunami, then hurricanes, now unrest in France and bombings in the Middle East. In Luke 21:25 it says, “there will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. . . Nations will be in anguish and perplexity . . “ before Jesus comes. That must mean it will be soon.” / “It’s been over 2,000 years and he hasn’t come back yet. I don’t think it’s today or tomorrow. I’ve got plenty of time. I’m going to do what I want and worry about it later.”
This passage from one of Paul’s earliest letters is about the second coming of Christ Jesus. Then, as now, there were two opinions: 1) those who thought it was eminent, and 2) those who thought it was far off in the future. Paul was writing to share what he thought the proper attitude should be. By taking a closer look at the passage, we might discern what our attitude should be.
I. Mt. 21:34 – 36 Jesus says the Day of the Lord will come.
A. “Day of the Lord” in the Old Testament all time was divided into 2 ages: 1) the present age 2) and the age to come. In between there was the “Day of the Lord”
1) would come suddenly and unexpectedly
2) involve cosmic upheaval – universe shaken to foundation.
3) would be a time of judgment.
B I Thess. 5: 2a – “the Day of the Lord WILL come.” Commonly held belief at that time. So common that Paul says he shouldn’t have to tell them.
C The controversy Paul is writing to settle is about those who are convinced the Day of the Lord will be soon and those who aren’t.
II. There are many today who don’t believe the Day of the Lord will ever come because it has been over 2,000 years and it hasn’t happened yet.
A. For Paul and for us the question is not, “If Jesus will return?” but “when will he return?” Two things are certain according to Paul
B. 1 Thess 5: 2 “For you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.” – the Son of Man is coming when he is least expected, like a thief in the night. – uncertainty of the time.
C. I Thess 5: 3 “labor pains on a pregnant woman” – no doubt about it happening.
III. Jean De La Fontaine wrote in 1668 the fable, La Cigale et La Fourmi – it is the story of the ant and the grasshopper. The ant worked all summer preparing for the winter and the grasshopper just played the violin. When winter came the grasshopper was not prepared.
A. VS. 4 & 5 – “But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all sons of the light and sons of the day.” --- Christians are different from non-believers because we should know how to live prepared!! And expecting the return of the Son of Man, live accordingly.
B. VS. 6 – “So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled.” (Some translations use “awake” and “sober”) Paul instructs us to:
1) “watch” (gregario – in the present tense) which means to continually stay awake or be vigilant.
2) “self-controlled” – “be sober” – anyone who has ever seen a drunk knows they have very little control over their mind, their mouth or their body.
C. Why? --- VS. 9 – “For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.” --- Paul wrote in Romans 14:8 – “If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.”
Conclu: There is an old gospel tune written by Lelia N. Morris that I remember from my childhood. “What If It Were Today” - “Jesus is coming to earth again, what if it were today? Coming in power and love to reign – What if it were today? Coming to claim His chosen Bride, All the redeemed and purified, Over this whole earth scattered wide – what if it were today? Glory, glory! Joy to my heart ‘twill bring; Glory, glory! When we shall crown Him King. Glory, glory! Haste to prepare the way; Glory, glory! Jesus will come someday.”