Big Idea: Don’t let the safety of today convince you that there will be no judgment tomorrow, and don’t let your salvation from tomorrow’s judgment lull you into spiritual laziness today.
I. The Thessalonians possessed an accurate knowledge of the Day of the Lord 1-2
1 Now as to the times and the epochs, brethren, you have no need of anything to be written to you. 2 For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night.
the times = times refers to periods of time, “the Stone Age” “the Age of Enlightenment” “The Roaring Twenties” “The Fifties” “The Sixties…Seventies…Eighties,” etc.
and the epochs, = this word refers to specific events and occasions, such as “The Battle of Gettysburg,” “911,” “The Fall of the Berlin Wall,” “Watergate,” “Desert Storm,” etc.
- In the Bible, “times and epochs” refers to the periods of time and the events in those periods—not to specific, calendar days.
that the day of the Lord = the day of the Lord.
- While we conceive of a day as comprised of daytime flowed by nighttime, the Hebrew day was exclusively viewed as being the night time (darkness) followed by the daytime (light). Cf. Gen 1 = “and there was evening, and there was morning, a third day”, etc. This darkness followed by light is the underlying assumption of the prophets, when they speak of a coming Day of the Lord. Darkness followed by light = evil/judgment/destruction, followed by blessing, light, etc.
- Example: Zephaniah 1:14-18 describes a horrible, dark time of judgment, poured out on the nations and on Israel (blessing), followed soon after by 3:14-18, which presents a time of unprecedented joy, blessing and light. These two concepts, the darkness and light, judgment and blessing, both comprise the biblical view of the prophesied Day of the Lord, as found mostly in the Old Testament prophets.
- Thief in the night = Uninvited, unexpected…
II. The Day of the Lord and the unbeliever 3
A. Its arrival will be shocking and sudden 3a
3 While they are saying, “Peace and safety!”
- Jer 6 14 “And they have healed the brokenness of My people superficially, Saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ But there is no peace.” = A mark of false prophets is the tendency to tailor their message to the desires of their listeners There will be a time in the future, perhaps necessitated by the upheaval and universal “crisis” of the rapture of the Church, that the entire world will crave a positive, assuring message: “All is well! Despite the amazing, upsetting, shattering event we’ve experienced—the disappearance of many people—things are back to normal, finally. Relax, there is now peace and safety!”
- 2 Pet 3 3 Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, 4 and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.” = Peter writes that a mark of the generation of humans who live in the last days of the present history is that there will be wide-spread derision and mocking of the very concept of the Day of the Lord, particularly the Lord’s return to judge the peoples of the earth.
B. It will bring inescapable devastation 3b
then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape.
- Birth pangs: The initial difficulties of something. Generally, birth pangs have some invariable qualities: They are unstoppable, increasing in severity, increasing in frequency, and seem unbearable to many mothers.
- and they will not escape. = there are three intensifying negations in this phrase. Literally, “Not, in no way, not escape!” The emphasis is that there will be NONE who have a remote possibility of escaping the judgment of the Day of the Lord—from the greatest political and military/cultural leaders to the most obscure, anonymous person—none will escape. This corresponds to Revelation 6:15-17, where the population of the earth, from least to greatest, receive the judgment of God for their sins.
III. The Day of the Lord and the believer 4-11
A. We are to remain spiritually alert, not asleep 4-6
4 But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief; 5 for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness; 6 so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober.
B. We are to remain self-controlled, not self-indulgent 7-8
7 For those who sleep do their sleeping at night, and those who get drunk get drunk at night. 8 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. 9 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.
- Faith = trust in God, particularly what He has revealed of Himself in His Word.
- Love = sacrificial orientation towards the benefit of others, over yourself.
- Breastplate of faith and love = Alloy = more than one metal, the properties of the substances enhanced through the combination. (Steel = iron + other metals, is stronger than the iron alone = Faith + Love is stronger than either without the other.)
C. We find comfort in the Day of the Lord 9-11
1. We are comforted because we will not face God’s wrath, and that instead we will find His salvation in Jesus 9-10
9 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.
- This verse might shock some, if they understood, with the strictest grammatical precision, what Paul is really saying here….He is NOT saying, “Whether you are dead or alive, you’ll live with Christ,” That’s true, but he’s already said that, in chapter 4. Here Paul uses different terms for “asleep,” and the immediate context argues that he is writing, “Whether you are morally/spiritually awake, or dull, apathetic, and backslidden (asleep), you will be saved if you belong to Jesus.
- This is not just Amazing Grace…is it nothing less than Astounding, Scandalous Grace!
2. We now have the ability to give real comfort to each other, and to the world around us. 11
11 Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.
Application: For Grace Bible Church…there is an important message here for both Christians, and non-Christians.
1. For those who do not trust in Jesus, and are still unbelieving and lost:
Don’t let the safety of today convince you that there will be no judgment tomorrow.
2. For those who know the Lord, and have therefore received the promises of salvation and deliverance…
Don’t let your salvation from judgment cause you to be spiritually lazy today…