The Day of the Lord – 1 Thessalonians 5: 1 – 11

First, let’s take a look at this passage in the New American Standard Bible (NASB):

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, 10 who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep, we will live together with Him. 11 Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.”

Now for my highlights of these verses:

Verse 1 – ‘Now as to’ – NASB,

From the discussion about the 2nd Coming of Jesus, now Paul turns his attention to the ‘day of the Lord’. This phrase refers to two things: times when God intervenes in judgment on the earth throughout history, and when He wraps it all up at the end of history and has the great and final judgment.

‘Times and epochs’ – same expression as used in Acts 1:7

In the previous chapter, Paul was instructing the saints about something they did not know about. In this chapter though he is exhorting them to live in the light of what they already know or have learned from the Old Testament. (Isaiah 13: 9-11, Joel 2: 1-2, 10-11, 28-32 (The main focus of the book of Joel is the day of the Lord), Zephaniah 1:14-18, 3:14-16)

Verse 2 – ‘The day of the Lord’ is a major theme of Old Testament prophecy. 13 out of 16 Old Testament prophets address this topic. Many references speak of a future event and some refer to an event in the past.  Also, it is not just a day of wrath and judgment on those who are disobedient to the Lord, but it is also a time of restoration, blessing and deliverance for those who love and follow Him.

‘Thief in the night’ – meaning when no one expects it. (Also see Luke 21:34 and 2 Peter 3:10)

Verse 3 – ‘While they are saying peace and safety’ – refers to unbelievers. The world will be lulled into a false sense of security.

  • This kind of reminds me of the passengers on the Titanic, the music playing, the crew going about their business, all the while, the ship is taking on water.
  • Or how about on a much smaller scale the asteroid fly by on Friday afternoon – 17,500 miles from the earth, traveling at 17,500 mph, closer than the geosynchronous satellites orbiting the earth.
  • Or an even smaller scale, be glad you were not in the region of Russia where the Meteorite hit on a recent Friday morning and injured over 1000 people.

Remember the words of Jesus in Matthew 24: 36-44, (take a look on your own at this)

  • As it was in the days of Noah
  • Marrying and giving in marriage
  • Thief in the night

The world will have turned a ‘deaf ear’ to the repeated warnings of the coming judgment.  Paul also compares the suddenness to ‘labor pains’ in pregnancy. You never really know when those labor pains will begin, but once they do, a process unfolds that cannot be reversed, and before you know it a baby will be born.

  • For those we know who are turning a ‘deaf ear’ to the things of the Lord, we need to keep praying that the Lord would convict unsaved people we know of sin. Plus we need to keep loving them with God’s love. It is not our job to be an Old Testament prophet or to rail against people. It is our job to show grace, just as we have received grace.

Verse 4 – Even though ‘the day of the Lord’ will surprise and overwhelm unbelievers, we as Christians know that it is coming. This should motivate us to live daily, trusting the Lord.

Words used a lot in verses 4-5 – Darkness, light

Words used a lot in verses 6-7 – Sleep, drunk, night, and alert

Verse 8 – ‘We are of the day’, ‘be sober’ – be free from drunkenness, and be alert to spiritual realities.

Breastplate of faith and love, helmet – the hope of salvation – similar to what Paul wrote in Ephesians 6. 1 Thess was one of the first letters that Paul wrote.

Here also is the familiar trio – ‘faith, hope and love’ – like in 1 Corinthians 13.

Verse 9 – our destiny – not wrath thankfully, but rather for salvation through Jesus!

Verse 10 – We will live with Him!

Verse 11 – Encourage one another, build one another up!

Wrap it up. Make today count. Live one day at a time, and live in readiness. Guard your heart. Make it your aim to keep loving and keep pray for the unchurched people you know, your whole life, not just part of your life. Don’t throw your hands up in the air and say, ‘well I’m sick of this, sick of their attitude, sick of the nonsense. I hope they rot in he__. I understand that we see a lot of culture rot all around us. Make it your aim to be ‘salt and light’ until your take your last breath. Don’t write people off.

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