Summary: Jesus Christ both unites and divides. Those who have trusted in Him as Savior are united in Christ. When Jesus returns in the air, we shall be caught up together, never to be separated again.
The Day of the Lord
As we continue our study of the letters to the church at Thessalonica, we come to Chapter five of 1 Thessalonians. Here we find Paul, writing the Thessalonicians about The Day of the Lord.
Jesus Christ both unites and divides. Those who have trusted in Him as Savior are united in Christ. When Jesus returns in the air, we shall be caught up together, never to be separated again.
But Christ is also a divider. Those who reject Him will be separated from the believers. Faith in Jesus not only unites us to other believers; it also separates us spiritually from the rest of the world. There is a difference between believers who are looking for the Lord’s return and the people of the world; it is this theme that Paul developed in this passage.
His purpose was to encourage the believers to live holy lives in the midst of their pagan surroundings. He did this by pointing out four contrasts between the believers and unbelievers.
1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 reads, “Now as to the times and the epochs, brethren you have no need of anything to be written to you. For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. While they are saying, Peace and safety! Then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape. But you, brethren are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief; for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night, nor of darkness; so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober. For those who sleep do their sleeping at night, and those who get drunk get drunk at night. But since we are of the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation. For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep, we will live together with Him. Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.”
I. Knowledge and Ignorance (verses 1-2)
• Three phrases in these verses need careful consideration.
1. Time and Seasons.
• This phrase is found only three times in the Bible, and refers primarily to God’s plan for Israel.
• God has a definite plan for the nations of the world, and Israel is the key nation.
2. The Day of the Lord.
• In the Bible, the word day can refer to a 24 hour period, or to a longer time during which God accomplished some special purpose.
3. Thief in the Night.
• Jesus used this image in His own teaching.
• It describes the suddenness and the surprise involved in the coming of the Day of the Lord.
• In Revelation 3:3 and 16:15, He used this image to warn believers not to be caught napping.
• Now we can put these three concepts together and discover what Paul wanted to teach the Thessalonicians.
• He has already told them about the coming of Christ for the church.
• He had told them that there would be a period of intense suffering and tribulation on the earth following this Rapture of the church.
• These times and seasons that relate to Israel and the nations do not apply to the church or affect the truth of the Lord’s coming for the church.
• He may come at any time, and this will usher in the Day of the Lord.
• Paul emphasis here was simply that believers were “in the know” while the unbelievers were living in ignorance of God’s plan.
• The suddenness of these events will reveal to the world its ignorance of divine truth.
II. Expectancy and Surprise (verses 3-5)
• The unsaved world will be enjoying a time of false peace and security just before these cataclysmic events occur.
• Note carefully the contrast between “they” and “you” (or “us”) throughout this entire section, “they” referring to the unsaved.
• They will say, “Peace and safety!” but we will say, “Jesus is coming, and judgment is coming!”
• The world is caught by surprise because men will not hear God’s Word or heed God’s warning.
• God warned that the flood was coming, yet only eight people believed and were saved.
• Lot warned his family that the city was about to be destroyed but they would not listen.
• Christians are “sons of light” and therefore are not “in the dark” when it comes to future events.