Summary: In a time when people are facinated by apocalyptic things... we hold firmly to the truth of God's Word as the Lord enables us to live as his people.
Title: Don’t panic… what will be is not yet!
Text: II Thessalonians 2:1-5 and 1:11-12
Thesis: In a time when people are fascinated by apocalyptic things, we hold to the truth and as God enables us, live as his people.
I’ve always been kind of fascinated by idioms… those little expressions people make to make a point. We get what is being said but we kind of wonder about the origin of a particular expression.
When someone says, “that ship has already sailed,” we know an opportunity has passed and whatever may have been wished or thought, is not going to happen. Similarly, when someone refers to having “missed the boat” we know they failed to take advantage of an opportunity and were just too late.
Forgive me for mixing metaphors but televisions Amazing Race vividly illustrates what it means to “miss the boat,” so the speak, as contestants rush to airline counters to secure flights to their next destination… inevitably there are contestants who arrive late and since “hat ship has already sailed” they have to book a later flight.
You could say that those who failed to get on Noah’s ark “missed the boat” and by the time they realized what had happened, “that ship had already sailed.”
Our text today begins with people in a similar panic. They thought they had missed the boat and that the ship had already sailed.
I. Don’t be Easily Shaken… God has an end-times plan in place
Don’t be so easily shaken or alarmed by those who say that the day of the Lord has already begun. II Thessalonians 2:2 (1-5)
This is not an irrelevant issue. Despite the clear teaching of Jesus in Matthew 24:36 (“No one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in haven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows.”) people still busy themselves trying to speculate and set dates for the return of Christ. And consistent with that clear teaching, every speculator and every speculation has been wrong.
Part of the problem is our understanding of imminence. Generally understood in a negative sense, imminence has that sense of impending danger or a threat hanging over one’s head.
In May of this year the New York Daily News ran a story about a family living in Milwaukee, Wisconsin who found a bomb shelter in their back yard that was constructed in the 1960’s during the height of the Cold War threat of nuclear war with the USSR. It was an 8X10 bunker with 8” concrete walls buried 15’ in the ground. It was fully equipped with bunks, an oven, a space heater, lamps, a toilet and enough supplies to survive underground for two weeks. A short time later a California couple discovered a fallout shelter in their back yard that had been built by a nuclear engineer in 1961 to protect his family against nuclear fallout. (Philip Caufield, New York Daily News, May 2, 2013 and Shane Ecker, the Huffington Post, June 7, 2013)
These fallout shelters have been buried in the ground… unopened and unused for over 50 years… and were designed to be protective and effective for approximately 2 weeks.
Here in the United States, even before the threat of nuclear war, we have fixated on all things apocalyptic. Since 1927 nearly 300 films of an apocalyptic nature have been produced beginning with Metropolis in 1927 and ending with After Earth this year. In keeping with the trend, After the World Ends is slated to come out in 2014.
One of the hottest new businesses today is the reinvention of the cold war fallout shelters as demand from doomsday preppers has resulted in production of modern day doomsday apocalypse bunkers
I don’t think the return of Christ ought to be thought of as “hanging over one’s head” or “threatening” for the believer. Quite to the contrary… the Second Coming of Christ is the fulfilling of our hope. But on the other hand, if the awareness of the end times and that the return of Christ may catch you unprepared, then it is rightly considered an imminent danger for the unbeliever. In that case they will miss the boat and there won’t any opportunity to rebook.
In that case it would seem being prepared to meet Christ is the more expedient concern rather than building a bunker to ride out the end times.
In I Thessalonians 5 and throughout the New Testament there are references to the Second Coming of Christ being likened to the unexpected coming of a thief in the night. We are repeatedly instructed to be prepared because Christ could come at any time.
In I Thessalonians 4:13-18 Paul had written in his first letter to the Thessalonians a teaching designed to clarify what exactly would happen when Christ returns. Apparently the people were worried about what would happen to the dead in Christ when Christ returned. So Paul alleviated those fears by this teaching: