Summary: Paul wants to make it perfectly clear that he doesn’t know when the Lord is returning to earth, nor does anyone else. We will note five things about this passage for this study.
We have spent the last two Wednesday studies talking about the RAPTURE and what we can expect. Paul said he didn’t want us to be ignorant of what is going to happen even though many Christians are. He has explained how the dead in Christ will rise first and then we who are living Christians at that time will join them in the air to be with our loved ones and with Jesus Christ.
Now we come to 1 Thess. 5: 1-3. READ.
Paul wants to make it perfectly clear that he doesn’t know when the Lord is returning to earth, nor does anyone else. We will note five things about this passage for this study.
1. When is the Lord returning? Paul is telling us that this is a fact that shouldn’t even have to be discussed. Paul had already taught the believers that no one knows when the Lord is returning to earth; only God knows. So there is really no need to discuss times and dates. This is a strong statement but a strong statement is needed with those who set dates.
“Times” means chronological time. Paul had already covered the order of events that were to happen in the end time. Paul was saying that the times of the end time extend over a long chronological time.
“Dates" means the particular time and the nature of the vents that are to take place. Paul again had covered the critical events and discussed what would be happening in the events. The very nature and happening of critical periods can be looked at and observed.
Once a believer has studied the times and dates of the end time, that is, the great spectacular periods of coming events and the particular happenings of the events, he knows that only God could know when He is returning. There are just too many intricate details for any man to know when the fullness of time has come. Only God knows those intricate details and only He knows when it is time for Him to return.
2. This sounds redundant but when is the Lord returning? When “the day of the Lord” is ready to come on the earth. Again, no one but God knows. Paul says it will come as a thief in the night—suddenly and unexpectedly.
Believers are LOOKING for the Lord’s return but unbelievers will be caught completely off guard. To say that unbelievers will be surprised is an understatement. They will be shocked and stand in terror at the appearance of Christ and at the judgments that will begin to fall upon earth.
The “day of the Lord” refers to the Lord’s dealing with unbelievers. That day, the day when God will bring every soul into judgment, is what the Bible calls, “the day of the Lord.” When the earth has reached such a depraved condition that it’s hopelessly lost forever and ripe for the judgments then the “day of the Lord” will come.
3. The day of the Lord will come when the world of unbelievers feel a great sense of security. Some leaders throughout the world or some world organization will cooperate and be able to achieve some semblances of peace and security throughout the world. So people will be reveling in the security and living it up even as they did in the days of Noah. And then it comes.