A STUDY IN 1 THESSALONIANS 5:
The blog-title for this POST came to me one morning, while remembering my childhood.
The past memories of growing up while living in Government Housing during the late 40’s, early 50’s.
What’s that have to do with a study in 1 Thessalonians? Let me explain.
A Time of Celebration…
I had just returned from a Texas trip of celebration and joy. My Dad had enjoyed his 100th birthday, along with a family reunion, and… three weeks later, he went home to be with the Lord.
So during the morning time of bible reading, it also became a time of reflection and memories of growing up in the San Diego area of California.
One thought lead to another as I laid the bible in my lap and closed my eyes, going down the proverbial “rabbit trail,” and finding myself at the end of the trail, as a 10 year old.
All the different games we would play in the neighborhood courts and protected front porches; Monopoly, Flashlight Tag, Kick-the-Can, Marbles in the nearby dirt alley ways.
No video games or “smartphones” to entertain us in those days.
When we got bored, our folks would calmly say, come “Go outside and play. I’ll call you when to come in.” Ouch! But we did so, because that’s what all the kids did! Sound familiar?
We could hardly wait for the opportunity while impatiently watching out the front door’s side window, waiting patiently for someone, anyone, to be the first outdoors:
“Hey dad…so-and-so is out playing, can I go out now?”
One game that every kid in the court and surrounding neighborhoods loved to play during the Summertime, was Hide and Seek.
The Game of “HIDE and SEEK” –
I loved playing hide and seek as a child. Whether I was the one hiding, who didn’t want to get caught, or I was the one trying to catch the unsuspecting.
I remember that the seeker, or “it” as we always called him; who closed his eyes–count to 100, so everyone else could go hide.
Sometimes the seeker would close his eyes and then cheat a little–peep around and then you could hear him count, “One, two, three, fourteen, fifteen, sixty-one and so on.”
Then you would hear him scream, “Ready or not here I come!” Four things I remember were always certain at that point:
#1. He was surely coming.
#2. He was coming when…He got ready.
#3. He was coming whether you were ready or not.
#4. And if you were not ready, then you would pay the consequences.
THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING READY- 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11:
The simple Hide & Seek child’s game, how that fun game parallels the second coming of Jesus.
The Apostle Paul exhorted the church in Thessalonica, the importance of being ready and the certain return of Jesus Christ.
(5:1-2a) “BUT AS to the suitable times and the precise seasons and dates, brethren, you have no necessity for anything being written to you. For you yourselves know perfectly well that the day of the Lord…”
THE CERTAIN RETURN OF JESUS CHRIST –
The Second Coming of JESUS is one of the most repeated teachings in all of Scripture.
And yet, the LIE EXISTS: “YOU HAVE PLENTY OF TIME TO GET YOUR LIFE IN ORDER.”
The Apostle Paul was well aware of this in penning the letter as he explained to his readers in the church. They should be perfectly aware that JESUS was coming again.
Reminds me of a song sung in churches years ago,
CHORUS: Coming again, coming again;
Maybe morning, maybe noon, maybe evening and maybe soon!
O, what a wonderful day it will be–
JESUS is coming again!
[Words and Music by John W. Peterson]
Not only did Paul tell them he shouldn’t even have to tell them again of Christ’s return, it should be obvious!
ILLUSTRATION: A Tourist Driving Through West Texas.
Being curious, the tourist asked the station attendant, “How can you possibly tell the weather with a piece of rope?”
“It’s simple, sonny,” the older man answered with a thick Texas drawl. “When the rope swings back and forth, its windy, when it gets wet, it’s raining, when it’s frozen stiff, it’s snowing, and when it’s gone…tornado!”
There are some simple things that should be obvious without even asking. The imminent return of JESUS is one of those things.
THE UNCERTAIN TIMING OF JESUS’ RETURN –
(5:2 b.) “…as a thief in the night.”
The question is not “if” Jesus will return, but “when” will He return?
And Paul’s answer? He’s basically saying, “No one knows.” He describes the time of Christ’s return as a thief in the night.
Just as a THIEF plans his entry with uncertain timing when least expected, so will be the coming of the Son of God.
JESUS Himself declared in Matthew 24:36, “But of that [exact] day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”
And He later said in Matthew 24:44, “You also must be ready therefore, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not expect Him.”
NOT BEING READY BRINGS CERTAIN JUDGMENT –
(5:3-5)  “When people are saying, All is well and secure, and, There is peace and safety, then in a moment unforeseen destruction (ruin and death) will come upon them suddenly as labor pains come upon a woman with child; and they shall by no means escape, for there will be no escape.  But you are not in [given up to the power of] darkness, brethren, for that day to overtake you by surprise like a thief.  For you are all sons of light and sons of the day; we do not belong either to the night or to darkness.
Paul refers to the Second Coming of Christ as the “Day of the Lord” (vs. 2).
Throughout Scripture, the “Day of the Lord” was the designation of that latter time in history [Old Testament, Joel 2:31; New Testament, Acts 2:20]; God would pour out His wrath on the ungodly.
When the Lord Jesus returns–rapture His people–then soon after our Lord will begin to pour out His judgments upon the earth in a time which many refer to as the Great Tribulation.
The Tragedy of this day is that so many will be unprepared. Not only unprepared, but actually deceived and actively deceiving others in the process crying out,
“PEACE AND SAFETY.” Adhering to spreading the LIE… “YOU HAVE PLENTY OF TIME TO GET READY.”
While thinking there is no real danger at all, when in fact, destruction is immediately upon them.
THE CONDITIONS OF WALKING IN READINESS –
(5:6-8)  “Accordingly then, let us not sleep, as the rest do, but let us keep wide awake (alert, watchful, cautious, and on our guard) and let us be sober (calm, collected, and circumspect).  For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night.  But we belong to the day; therefore, let us be sober and put on the breastplate (corslet) of faith and love and for a helmet the hope of salvation.”
Living Daily with an Attitude of Watchfulness (vss. 6, 7).
“let us not sleep, as the rest do, but let us keep wide awake (alert, watchful, cautious, and on our guard…” (verse 6).
As a SOLDIER is commanded to “stay alert” — “keep wide awake” — “WATCH!”, so as true believers, we too are commanded… to have an attitude of “spiritual awakeness” (gregario – Greek. word used).
So must we as Christians!
Paul’s command to “watch” is in the present tense; meaning this must be a continual practice of the Saints (the true believers). A matter of ATTITUDE.
A Roman soldier would be put to death for falling asleep on his watch.
The outcome could be just as fatal for the person not constantly looking for the return of Christ Jesus.
DISCIPLINE comes into play at this point.
LIVING DAILY WITH DISCIPLINE OF SELF-CONTROL –
Paul’s warning must not allow anything within our lives to influence our moral alertness…not anything!
Just like alcoholic beverages will greatly influence and inhibit a person’s abilities to focus–to make important decisions; sin (not the ‘drinking’ of spirits, but the results) will affect one’s ability to make moral decisions. A person doesn’t become drunk with just one drink, but one drink can lead to two and then three.
Slowly, the person becomes drunk without noticing it and all of one’s senses become blurred, making oneself a danger to self and also others around them.
In the same way, if we do not control sin in our lives–not “watchful”–we soon are overcome by its effects and become oblivious to spiritual matters. Therefore unaware and unconcerned about the imminent RETURN OF CHRIST JESUS.
As a drunkard who has passed out and oblivious to the world, so is the uncontrolled sinner who has spiritually passed out. It takes daily discipline and self-control.
THE NEED OF HAVING DAILY PROTECTION –
(5:8) God’s Armor “…let us be sober and put on the breastplate (corslet) of faith and love and for a helmet the hope of salvation.”
As BELIEVERS, we are clothed “in Christ” as Paul describes in detail on many occasions in his letters to the churches.
In other words, what Paul is saying, that once we are SAVED…we are battle dressed with the Armor of God, and that ARMOR protects our spiritual organs–spiritual heart and mind.
What is A HAT? What is its function?
A HAT can be used for decoration as an accent to an outfit; to dazzle those around you and just look good!
It may be used as RECOGNITION; for identification such as a policeman’s hat or a chef’s hat…
It might be used for PROTECTION, such as a football player, or like my Dad wore his Fireman’s Helmet.
The HELMET identifies us with our savior…
It identifies us with JESUS…
It reveals to the world who we want to be identified with…but it also identifies us on how we should be acting and living!
SPIRITUAL PROTECTION –
The ARMOR we are given as a believer in Christ protects us from the enemy who is always out to destroy us…from this evil and broken world…and protects us from ourselves, from the terrible decisions we sometimes make (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24).
The Blessings that should Come from Being Ready!
(5:9-11)  “For God has NOT appointed us to [incur His] wrath [He did not select us to condemn us], but [that we might] obtain [His] salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah)…  Who died for us so that whether we are still alive or are dead [at Christ’s appearing], we might live together with Him and share His life.  Therefore encourage (admonish, exhort) one another and edify (strengthen and build up) one another, just as you are doing.”
The PEACE of knowing, of always being READY for Jesus’ return is surely a BLESSING.
Therefore,you will look for Christ’s Coming with excitement and with expectancy instead of Fear and Dread.
THE COMFORT OF KNOWING…that you will be SAVED from the Wrath of God!
“God’s people should plan for a VOYAGE of a thousand years, but be prepared to abandon ship tonight!” ~ Joseph Bayly.
Photos– Photo Pin and Google Images.
Bible Translation: Amplified Bible.
Commentary: Bible.org – John Walvoord, “The Rapture and the Day of the Lord, 1 Thessalonians 5”; “how does the day of the Lord relate to the rapture?” – whenistherapture.com