Summary: The Day of the Lord refers to the time when God will dramatically intervene in human history and set in motion the events of the end of the world, as we know it.
God has a great way of humbling us. This week I had the privilege of driving my two granddaughters, Lizzie and Caroline to school. They call me Dee Dee, so when I get to hang out with them, I call it Dee Dee duty. But I always say that when I get to be with them it’s a happy Dee Dee duty day.
On the way to school one morning there was a song by Katy Perry on the radio. I told them that Katy Perry had something in common with their mom. They asked, “What?” And I said, “They both are the daughters of a pastor.” I thought they would be impressed with that. But then both of them said to me in unison, “What’s a pastor?” So I can tell I’m really making an impression on them. Of course, I’d rather just be known as Dee Dee than their pastor.
Paul was the founding pastor of the church at Thessalonica. His main message was that Jesus was going to return. But there was a lot of confusion about what he taught. He wrote the first letter to describe exactly what happens when Jesus returns in the clouds. The dead in Christ will rise first, then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together to meet the Lord in the air.
But since that first letter, some disruptive people scared the members of the church. There were some crazy people claiming to have a prophecy from God that the Day of the Lord had already happened. Others claimed they had another letter from Paul that said Jesus had already returned. They were afraid. So Paul sent this second letter to reassure them that Jesus hadn’t returned yet. In the process of correcting this mistake, he lays out God’s prophetic agenda. In this passage he also introduces the evil character that the Bible calls the Antichrist.
2 Thessalonians 2:1-7. “Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us, saying that the day of the Lord has already come. Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshipped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God. Don’t you remember that when I was with you I used to tell you these things? And now you know what is holding him back, so that he may be revealed at the proper time. For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way.”
“The Day of the Lord” is mentioned 34 times in the Bible. The Day of the Lord doesn’t refer to a single, 24-hour period. It is used like the expression, “We’re living in the day of nuclear energy.”
The Day of the Lord refers to the time when God will dramatically intervene in human history and set in motion the events of the end of the world, as we know it. We’ve been studying that the Day of the Lord is a series of events that begins when Jesus returns to rapture the church, and will carry all the way through the thousand-year reign of Christ on earth; it’s also called the millennial reign. How can a day be a thousand years? In 2 Peter 3:8 the Bible says that with the Lord a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years is like a day.
If you’re a little confused by all that, don’t feel alone. So were the disciples in Thessalonica. So Paul points out there are two things that must happen before the day the Lord begins. He also gives us the key to understanding world events during this time.
I. THE CHURCH WILL BE REMOVED BEFORE THE DAY OF THE LORD
Paul began his correction by writing, “Concerning the coming our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him.” Since we’ve already talked at length about the rapture in 1 Thessalonians 4, just notice two important points.
A. Ignore all the phony predictions
Paul had to write to these Christians because they had been duped by false prophets, and liars. Jesus said, “If anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. For false Christs and false prophets will appear…No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” (Matthew 24:23, 36)