Summary: Paul, Part 25 (Final)
THE DAY OF THE LORD (1 THESSALONIANS 5:1-11)
Greeting Queen Elizabeth II’s visit in 2007 was quite a chore and challenge to the Americans. “Do people wear pants, dresses or business attire to meet the queen?” was a common question guests fortunate to be invited to meet the queen asked. Dinner attire was white tie and tails, the first and, perhaps, only white-tie affair of the Bush administration.
National Public Radio was kind enough to offer etiquette tips when meeting the queen:
WHAT DO I DO WHEN THE QUEEN ENTERS THE ROOM?
Rise and remain standing. If you make eye contact, it’s okay to smile. But don’t just stroll over and introduce yourself. A host will do that.
DO I NEED TO BOW OR CURTSY?
No. Americans are not expected to show such courtesy but are free to do so. Should you choose to, men bow their head only, dropping from the neck. Women perform a slight curtsy, placing the right foot behind the left heel and slightly bending the knees.
MAY I SHAKE THE QUEEN’S HAND?
Yes, but wait for the queen to offer her hand first. And, suggests Britain’s Guardian newspaper, “Try to refrain from vigorously pumping the royal arm; a brief touch is preferred.”
HOW DO I REFER TO THE QUEEN?
As “Your Majesty” on first being introduced and subsequently as “Ma’am.” Lower nobility, such as her husband, The Duke of Edinburgh, are referred to as “Your Highness” at first and subsequently “Sir.” Refrain from using cute nicknames for members of the royal family.
WHAT SHOULD I TALK ABOUT WITH THE QUEEN?
Feel free to make small talk or discuss topics in the news, but let the queen steer the conversation. And keep your comments brief.
HOW SHOULD I EAT IN THE PRESENCE OF THE QUEEN?
Gracefully. Don’t eat too quickly. Don’t swig water directly from plastic bottles. When the queen stops eating, so should you. But do enjoy your meal.
Heaven and hell are central concepts to most religions and in the Bible but not to Paul. While the “kingdom of heaven” occurs more than 30 times in the four gospels, unique to Matthew, and “hell” 11 times in the gospels, the two teachings are missing in and not part of Paul’s teachings in the epistles. Instead he is moved by the Old Testament declaration of a coming day of the Lord.
What is the day of the Lord? How are we to prepare for it? What is at stake for believers and unbelievers?
The Day of the Lord is a Day of Destruction
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. 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. 4 But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. (1 Thess 5:1-4)
Excited about his message on the Second Coming of Christ, a minister hollered at the top of his voice, feverishly pounded on the pulpit and ended the sermon with an exclamation point: “And the Lord said, “I am coming soon (Rev 3:11), Behold, I am coming soon! (Rev 22:7), Yes, I am coming soon (Rev 22:20).”
Unfortunately the old pulpit could not withstand the big man’s relentless pounding and his habitual leaning on it, and it dramatically broke apart right in front of the gasping audience’s eyes. The minister, to his embarrassment, landed right in front of a sister in the church, hitting her in the eye and knocking her off her seat. He apologized profusely to the woman, but she replied, “It was not your fault, Pastor. You’ve warned me three times “I am coming soon,” but I did not get out of the way.”
There is one day more important than any day in the future that you do not want to miss, the day the Ruler, the Redeemer and the Reconciler of the world comes into town.
This is the first time Paul uses the phrase “the day of the Lord,” a phrase exclusively used in his letters to the church in Thessalonica (1 Thess 5:1, 2 Thess 2:2). Otherwise, the day is also known as “the day of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor 1:8), “the day of the Lord Jesus” (1 Cor 5:5, 2 Cor 1:14), “the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil 1:6), “the day of Christ” (Phil 1:10, 2:16) in his other epistles.
The day of the Lord first make its debut in the major prophets (Isa 2:12), when Israel faced exile, expulsion and extinction. Isaiah says it is a “a cruel day, with wrath and fierce anger — to make the land desolate and destroy the sinners within it.” (Isa 13:9). Jeremiah adds it is “a day of vengeance…on his foes” (Jer 46:10). Ezekiel declares it is “a time of doom for the nations.” (Ezek 30:3). The minor prophets continued with this theme. Twice, Joel says it is a “great and terrible day” - once adding “great and very terrible day” (Joel 2:11, 31). Amos describes that day as “darkness, not light. It will be as though a man fled from a lion only to meet a bear, as though he entered his house and rested his hand on the wall only to have a snake bite him,” a day of “darkness, not light — pitch-dark, without a ray of brightness.” (Amos 5:18-20).