Summary: After answering the Thessalonians' concerns about the dead in Christ, Paul then addressed their concerns about when Christ would return. Paul makes three very important points about Christ's Second Coming.
A. Do you remember which childhood game included these words: “Ready or Not, Here I Come”?
1. How many of you enjoyed playing “Hide and Seek”?
2. Which did you enjoy more: being the one hiding or the one seeking?
3. You remember how the game went:
a. The seeker would cover their eyes and count out loud up to the agreed on number, whether it be 50 or 100 – sometimes they would cheat a bit by counting really fast, or by skipping numbers. 1…2…3…5…10…20.
b. While they were counting, everyone else tried to find a really good hiding place.
c. When the seeker reached the magic number, he or she would scream: “Ready or not, here I come.”
4. Four things were always certain:
a. The seeker was surely coming.
b. The seeker was coming when he got ready.
c. The seeker was coming whether you were ready or not.
d. If you were not ready, then you would pay the consequences.
B. Who would have thought that this fun childhood game would so closely parallel the second coming of Jesus – Just like the game of hide and seek, four things are always certain about the second coming:
1. Jesus is surely coming.
2. Jesus is coming when he gets ready.
3. Jesus is coming whether you are ready or not.
4. If you are not ready when Jesus comes, then you will pay the consequences.
C. After taking a break last Sunday for the youth rally, today we return to our “Be Ready” series from 1 & 2 Thessalonians.
1. Two weeks ago, we focused on the wonderful and well-known section that ends chapter 4 – Please open your Bibles to that passage.
2. The Thessalonians had expressed their concern about the state of those Christians who had died before the Second Coming.
3. Paul put their minds at ease saying, 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. 14 We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 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. 18 Therefore encourage each other with these words. (1 Thess. 4:13-18)
4. What an amazing day that will be when Christ returns!
5. The dead in Christ will rise, those who are still alive will be caught up together with them in the clouds and we will be with the Lord forever! How does that sound to you?
D. Today’s passage picks up right there as Paul continues to address this topic and their questions.
1. It appears that in addition to being concerned about those who had died, the Thessalonians were also concerned about when the Second Coming was going to take place.
2. It is that second concern that Paul addressed in chapter 5:1-11.
3. Let’s work through the passage and see what Paul wants us to know about the Second Coming.
4. Paul makes three important points.
I. First, No one Can Predict the Date of the Second Coming.
A. Paul wrote: 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. 3 While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. (5:1-3)
B. Here we notice that Paul used two illustrations to convey the suddenness and unpredictability of the Second Coming – both are fantastic illustrations.
1. The first illustration is one that Jesus also employed – the Second Coming will be like a thief in the night.
a. The cloak of darkness and surprise are the thief’s best tools.
b. The thief avoids well-lit houses and those with alarm systems.
c. The thief certainly doesn’t let anyone know when he intends to strike – he doesn’t send a note encouraging you to be gone on a certain date and time so he can rob your home.
2. The second illustration Paul used is that the Second Coming is like the coming of labor pains on a pregnant woman.