The Great Gospel Day
God, prepare my heart to receive Your Word today; prepare my life for Your return.
Read 1 Thessalonians 5:1–11
Now, brothers and sisters, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, 2 for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3 While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.
4 But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. 5 You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. 6 So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. 8 But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. 9 For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. 10 He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. 11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectDo you struggle to believe that Jesus will return? Or are you more concerned with how and when he will return?
These verses are clear evidence that Paul knew Jesus’ teaching well, even if he never heard it directly (see Matt. 24:36–51). In verses 1–3, he echoes Jesus’ point about the return being a certainty but its exact timing a secret (that even the Lord didn’t know). As with a pregnancy, there is discomfort and pain in the anticipation and birth, but joy at the result.
Then there is more juice to be squeezed from the “sleep” analogy Paul used in Saturday’s reading. But instead of using it positively (for those who have died while trusting Jesus), he likens it to being too dopey or drunk to be ready for the thief. Instead, we should be awake and alert (6).
Did you notice the parallel between verse 8 and 1:3? Christian waiting is more like preparing for exams than twiddling thumbs while waiting for the rain to stop. It’s about purposeful activity to serve Christ in preparation for his return (see also 1:10). It is not something we do out of fear, but in confidence that Jesus’ return will fulfill all that he has promised (9,10).
When was the last time you encouraged a Christian friend with these truths (11)? Are you encouraged by them?
Father, I pray that this confident hope will lead to faith, love and service in the day ahead.
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