1 Thessalonians 5_1-11
1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 Part 1: Be Ready 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 Last time that we were together, we discussed what Paul meant when he wrote to the Thessalonians concerning those who die before the day of the Lord. On this subject, Paul did not want them to be unaware. And as we spoke last time of how the people were worried or concerned about what would occur to the people at the coming of the Lord. For those who had fallen asleep, they will not be forgotten, but they will rise again. He is writing a note of encouragement to them as he starts to expand upon the doctrine of the end times. But in this discourse, he is not going to unfold the entirety of the end times, but he is emphasizing a couple items surrounding the end times. 1) The timing of the Day of the Lord 2) The ethics of the people in the end times Now as we go through these two points, I want us to remember that they are intertwined. Paul is expressing how our understanding of the timing, affects our living. Or to say it oppositely, our living is affected by our understanding of the timing. Now one thing I also want you to understand about when we talk about the end times, it is generally always in the Scriptures used in a manner to inform our ethics. Our living. You see that with Jesus in Matthew’s Gospel, here in Paul’s Letter to the Thessalonians, in Peter’s letter, and even in John’s Revelation. All of them are pointing to us how we ought to live and conduct ourselves. I think too often we wrap ourselves with wanting to be able to discern the signs of the times when everything in the Scriptures, ESPECIALLY the end times are focused on one thing! Jesus! They are to bring our attention to Him. The end times is looking to how we will God’s people in His kingdom for eternity after the Son comes back and so why do we care about wars and rumors of wars and storms. We should be focused on seeking Him! And how much better to do so than to be 1) reading His word 2) Prayer and Fasting towards God 3) Obeying His commands. You see, if there is one thing I want you to get out of this sermon and any message that you hear about the end times, it is simply this. Your understanding should shape you to be a better Christian and if that message does not affect you in the now. If it does not prepare you to live like how we will live in Heaven, that message is lacking to your detriment. If understanding more about the end times does not make you love God more, but puts even more unease or more conspiracies into your mind as you try to speculate when the day is, that is a terrible message that you have heard. All throughout the emphasis of each person has been to point you to live right as we wait. To live in such a way that you are preparing for the end. If it does not bring you to love God more, than it is a loss. I think Peter would agree…or I should actually say, I believe that what I am proclaiming to you is in accord with Peter. He writes that in 2 Peter 3. If you read it is a chapter on the end times and more specifically on the ethics of the people of God during those times. And right after talking about the day of the Lord and to put a close to the entire letter, he concludes with these words “17 Therefore, dear friends, since you know this in advance [the day of the Lord and ethics in the end times and false teachers who will twist things, especially Paul], be on your guard, so that you are not led away by the error of lawless people and fall from your own stability. 18 But [what are we supposed to do? Guard and grow…towards what end?] grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.” Having this knowledge ought to bring us to guard good theology and to grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus. For him to receive the glory. When? Now and in eternity. That is what having an understanding of the end times ought to do. And so, if you can get anything out of my message, it needs to be this. The end times, changes the way you live because you know that God is coming back for His people and so you are living in such a way that your life now will be your life in eternity. For His glory. Simple enough? Now, on the first point, some of you may be sitting at the edge of your seat wondering what date I am going to say so that you will be ready. Will the Day of the Lord be after my birthday so I get to enjoy presents, but before my anniversary so I wont forget to get my spouse a gift this year? When is Jesus coming back? August 12, 2020. No, no no. Throw that out of your head. When will it really be? Well, I am going to disappoint you. Paul makes it abundantly clear that the Lord’s coming will come unexpectantly. We do not know when he will come, but one thing we know for sure is that he is coming. Jesus said it and so if he said it, it is true. For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. (Matthew 24:27) "At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming… (Matthew 24:30) For the Son of Man is going to come… (Matthew 16:27) As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man….That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. (Matthew 24:37;39) And 11 more times, he refers to his coming…Luke 17:28-30, Luke 21:34-36, Matthew 24:40-44, Matthew 25:1-12, Luke 12:37-38, John 14:1-3, Matthew 25:13, Matthew 24:36, Luke 12:40, Matthew 25:31, Mark 8:38. So that fact is established. The readers, they know it is true. So, Paul does not need to present a defense for a future coming of the Lord. They people are expecting it. We know that they are because in the previous chapter they were so worried about those who had passed away. Did they miss it? Will they never make it into Heaven? 1 Thess 1:9b-10a …Speaking of the faith of the people “how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God 10 and to wait for His Son from heaven.” They were a waiting people. They waited for Jesus’ return just as we are all waiting for the return of Christ. But what about what is going to happen? Do they need some fresh insights on this? No! Nothing needs to be written? Why. Well Jesus had taught them about the times and seasons of the Day of the Lord. And who better to instruct them on these points than Jesus. Also, could it be that it really is not that important? I think so. We as people are too easily distracted from Jesus. Too easily are our attentions turned towards the insignificant things. We are too often like kids playing with wrapping paper as opposed to enjoying the gift. But not just us. In Acts 1:6-8, a similar question is posed to Jesus before His ascension. 6 So when they had come together, they asked Him, “Lord, are You restoring the kingdom to Israel at this time?” 7 He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or periods that the Father has set by His own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” I see Paul as expressing the similar idea here. Knowing how to live in preparation for the coming of the Lord is of far greater importance than knowing the timing of His return. The people were not ignorant of whether or not Jesus would come. They needed no reminder. And concerning the times and seasons, he does not need to expand on it. There is no lengthy discussion that needs to be put forth in this letter. The purpose is not to decipher the time when he will come back. The purpose is to establish for his readers how they ought to live. Are you changed in your lives when you read the Scriptures? Or do you go off playing with wrapping paper, latching on to things that are not the intended focus? And looking to verse 2, “For you yourselves know very well that the Day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night”. Paul is not even going to try and guess when Jesus is going to come. He doesn’t want to guess so he is going to use a similar analogy of Jesus. Now this is an interesting phrasing “thief in the night” in connection to the Day of the Lord. Jesus used a similar phrasing in his final sermon with his disciples prior to the crucifixion. You find it in Matthew 24 and again used in 25 to discuss the lack of knowledge around the time. Peter also used it in his second epistle chapter 3:10 “But the Day of the Lord will come like a thief” What is being expressed with this analogy? Well, a few months ago, I was getting ready for work and so I prepared myself by fixing my face and getting dressed. I gathered my work computer and my lunch and I headed out to my car. When I got to my car, I found that I had left my doors unlocked the night before and I found that someone had clearly gone into my vehicle looking for something to steal. They had not really gotten anything but some change, apparently, they did not want my gospel tracts nor the street Bible that I had left in my car. Now, let me give you a hypothetical. If I had known that someone was going to go into my vehicle and throw things about, making a huge mess, regardless of how little they got. Do you think I would have left my car unlocked? No way. In the same way, no one knows when a thief is going to break in. Even Jesus taught that….“But know this: If the homeowner had known what time the thief was coming, he would have stayed alert and not let his house be broken into.” Matthew 24:43 So, is the purpose, is the focus on knowing when the thief in the night will come? No. Is the focus on knowing when the Lord will come? No. What we need to know we already know. What we need to know is that Jesus is coming back again. And so…. What? “This is why you also must be ready, because the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” Matt 24:44 We must be ready! That is the exhortation given by Paul to the readers. And by the inspiration and preserving work of the Spirit, what we also ought to get. He is coming, at a time you do not know. Be ready. • As you would pack for a trip, no one likes waiting VERSE 3 For if you think that you will escape his judgment and second coming, you won’t. Like the birthing pangs of a woman in labor do come, ask any mother that, so too will there not be an escape. And this is very much a warning. So we get to the second way that we are influenced in knowing he is coming. 1) We are ready (1-2) 2) We are not foolish (3) 3) We are not overtaken by darkness (4-5) 4) We do not sleep (6-7) 5) We are equipped (8-11) The end times, changes the way you live because you know that God is coming back for His people and so you are living in such a way that your life now will be your life in eternity. For His glory.