Living as a Lighthouse

February 18th, 2007

1 Thess 4:13-5:11

An Eye on the Horizon

In 1879 The greatest annual loss of life in the New England fisheries occurred, with 29 vessels and 249 fishermen lost at sea.

During that year many women found themselves on lonely widow walks with and eye on the horizon hoping for the return of their loved one.

A widow’s walk (or roofwalk) is a railed rooftop platform, typically on a coastal house, originally designed to observe vessels at sea. The name comes from the wives of mariners who would watch for their spouses to return. In some instances, the ocean took the lives of the mariners, leaving the women as widows; who would often thereafter gaze out to sea wishing beyond hope that their loved ones would return home and hence the name widow’s walk was born.

T.S. Whenever I see a widow’s walk I am reminded of a profound truth that Paul relates to the Thessalonians. A part of living as a lighthouse entailed keeping your eye on the Horizon; to be watching for the return of the Forgiver.


T.S. Living with our eye on the horizon entails fullfiling two commands.

First, He challenges us not to be unaware.

I. Don’t be Ignorant About the Return

13 Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope.

This is a hot tip. Insider information.

This truth holds a secret to be discovered that will set us apart as lighthouses evening in the most difficult times, the loss of loved ones. It will be the envy of others.

Katie Couric, NBC’s Today show host, lost her husband, 42, to colon cancer in 1998 following a six-month battle. She also experienced the death of her sister almost four years later. Katie shared with an interviewer about an inner yearning:

"I’m very interested in exploring a more spiritual side of me, and I’m in the process of doing that, both formally and informally. I really envy those who have a steadfast, unwavering faith, because I think it’s probably so comforting and helpful during difficult times."

T.S. Paul doesn’t want us to miss the importance of this insider tip—The Forgiver will Return

A. It is prescribed

15 According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.

We don’t know everything about his return, scholars have argued for years about certain aspects of the Forgiver’s Return. Paul isn’t giving us an exhaustive treatise on the subject. BUT he does tell us some significant things.

--Lord Himself—the Forgiver

--Intentional (loud command)

--Celestial (beyond anything we can imagine)


--Culminating event

--Time is unknown

5:1 Now, brothers, 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 unexpected surprise of the event is the key element. We can never know when it will occur.

Imagine a Surprise party that is not on your birthday, your anniversary or any other date of significance. Imagine that it is the greatest party that you’ve ever attended. It is the party of all parties.

That is the idea stressed by Paul.

The forgiver will return and it will be a jubilant surprise.

C. Its hope is an encouragement


4:18 Therefore encourage each other with these words.

Encouragement is used in two different ways in this passage. This is the first time Paul tells us to encourage one another with the truth that the Forgiver is returning.

Here it bears the idea of coming along side another in their time of difficulty darkness or crisis and we gently join with them in their grief while holding fast to the truth that even in the face of death this is not the end.

For this use of encouragement I love this picture.


T.S. Living with our eye on the horizon entails fullfiling two commands. Not being ignorant of the truth of His retrun and then living accordingly.

II. Live Accordingly

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