1 Thessalonians 4:15-5:11
The Rapture and the Day of the Lord – Part 4
Mark 13:24, 27
“But in those days, after that tribulation, …….
He will send forth the angels, and will gather together His elect from the four winds,
from the farthest end of the earth, to the farthest end of heaven. NASB
1 Thessalonians 5:3-4 – 3 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. NASU
A. Notice then, as the unbelieving world is caught in the web of Antichrist’s deception, they actually think of it as “Peace and safety.” Note the terms, “While they are saying,” seems to indicate that right at the time of the parousia they will be saying this, then the Lord appears “suddenly.” This happens as they do not realize that the looming judgment of Christ which has been brewing for some 6000 years of man’s rebellion against God, is finally upon them. Paul describes what happens next as… “then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape.” This is exactly how Jesus described His coming. On the very day He rescues the righteous, then sudden destruction comes upon the wicked and unbelieving.
Luke 17:25-37 – 26 “And just as it happened in the days of Noah, so it shall be also in the days of the Son of Man: 27 they were eating, they were drinking, they were marrying, they were being given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. 28 “It was the same as happened in the days of Lot: they were eating, they were drinking, they were buying, they were selling, they were planting, they were building; 29 but on the day that Lot went out from
Not only is the Second Coming of Christ inevitable, but when it comes, there will be no way of escape for anyone who is not ready (being a born again Christian, living in Christ). Notice, “then destruction will come upon them suddenly” and the end of the world as we know it will be upon mankind, and with utter finality and fierce judgment the wrath of God will come down upon the kingdoms of this world, and upon all the ungodly and unbelieving sinners who have ignored God’s warnings and rebelled against His authority and “they will not escape.” Paul gives a more comprehensive and vivid description of what happens here in 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10.
2 Thessalonians 1:7-11 – 7 and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, 8 dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 And these will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, 10 when He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day, and to be marveled at among all who have believed — for our testimony to you was believed. NASB
Isaiah 13:9-13 – 9 Behold, the day of the Lord is coming, Cruel, with fury and burning anger,
To make the land a desolation; And He will exterminate its sinners from it. 10 For the stars of heaven and their constellations Will not flash forth their light; The sun will be dark when it rises, And the moon will not shed its light. 11 Thus I will punish the world for its evil, And the wicked for their iniquity; I will also put an end to the arrogance of the proud, And abase the haughtiness of the ruthless. 12 I will make mortal man scarcer than pure gold, And mankind than the gold of Ophir. 13 Therefore I shall make the heavens tremble, And the earth will be shaken from its place At the fury of the Lord of hosts In the day of His burning anger. NASB
God has warned of this looming judgment from even before the flood, as far back as 5000 years ago God’s prophets were warning of His coming global judgment upon all mankind.
Jude 14-15 – 14 And about these also Enoch, in the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones, 15 to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.” NASB
1 Thessalonians 5:4-6 – 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. NASU
A. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief – This important truth needs to be held in correct balance. On one hand Jesus taught us that we do not know the day or hour, but at the same time was saying that we should be aware of the events surrounding His coming so that we would not be caught unaware. Jesus made explicit statements about the fact that we were to “be on the alert” and to pay attention to the signs of His coming so that we would not be caught unaware and that this day would not overtake us as a thief.
Mark 13:23 – 23 “But take heed; behold, I have told you everything in advance. NASB
Mark 13:28-29 – 28 “Now learn the parable from the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender, and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. 29 “Even so, you too, when you see these things happening, recognize that He is near, right at the door. NASB
Matthew 24:24-25 – 24 “For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect. 25 “Behold, I have told you in advance. NASB
Luke 21:27-36 – 27 “And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 “But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” 29 And He told them a parable: “Behold the fig tree and all the trees; 30 as soon as they put forth leaves, you see it and know for yourselves that summer is now near. 31 “Even so you, too, when you see these things happening, recognize that the
In fact the parable of the Ten Virgins was designed to explain this truth very clearly.
Matthew 25:10-13 – 10 “And while they were going away to make the purchase, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding feast; and the door was shut. 11 “And later the other virgins also came, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open up for us.’ 12 “But he answered and said, ‘Truly I say to you, I do not know you.’ 13 “Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour. NASB
Other Apostles made it very clear that this knowledge was to cause us to be alert and on our guard.
2 Peter 3:17-18 – 17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard lest, being carried away by the error of unprincipled men, you fall from your own steadfastness, 18 but 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. NASB
On this basis then, Christians are to be well aware of the signs of Christ coming and not be deceived by date setters or false teachers, or to fall into a lifestyle of complacency or drunkenness and be caught in a state not ready for the Lord’s return but in fact busy about the Master’s business. Notice here, “But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief.” Paul’s point couldn’t be clearer, the parousia will not “overtake” Christians “like a thief,” but rather we will be well aware that the day is upon us and expectantly waiting for it. This is because “you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness,” and have our hearts and minds illumined by the knowledge of these things. Christ has brightly shown us these things and we are not “in darkness” and unaware, but rather “sons of light” and know full well that these things are coming upon the world. In response to this then, Christians are not to be slumbering or complacently getting drunk and living in dissipation, “so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober.” Paul gives an apt description of what our lifestyle should be like in light of these truths in Romans chapter 13.
Romans 13:11-14 – 11 And this do, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. 12 The night is almost gone, and the day is at hand. Let us therefore lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13 Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts. NASB
B. 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 – Here the great contrast between the believer and the unbeliever is seen. The unbeliever is “in darkness,” the believer has been transformed, “for you are all sons of light and sons of day.” Of course here “light” and “darkness” have to do with our illumination to the soon coming of Christ and destruction upon the wicked. Those who are “sons of light all sons of light and sons of day” are able to clearly see what is coming upon the world, the “sudden destruction” of verse 3, to which unbelievers are “in darkness” and cannot see. The contrast here is between those who can see and will not be “overtaken by the sudden destruction like a thief,” and those who are “of night and of darkness” who will in fact be “overtaken” by the sudden coming of Christ, the great day of the Lord. Paul goes on here, “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.” His point here is, since we are “sons of light and sons of day” and can see clearly the looming judgment of the great day, and because we are “not of night nor of darkness,” that we should NOT behave like sons of darkness but rather like “sons of light.” This teaching is very clear in other places in Scripture.
Ephesians 5:5-14 – 5 For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7 Therefore do not be partakers with them; 8 for you were formerly darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), 10 trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 And do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; 12 for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret. 13 But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light. NASB
Jesus warned in the Olivet Discourse concerning His Second Coming that His people should not be “weighted down” by vain things or worries of life or in “drunkenness.” But in contrast to that, we should be “alert at all times” eagerly looking for our “escape” from these things.
Luke 21:34-36 – 34 “Be on guard, that your hearts may not be weighted down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of life, and that day come on you suddenly like a trap; 35 for it will come upon all those who dwell on the face of all the earth. 36 “But keep on the alert at all times, praying in order that you may have strength to escape all these things that are about to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.” NASB
Matthew 24:45-51 – 45 “Who then is the faithful and sensible slave whom his master put in charge of his household to give them their food at the proper time? 46 “Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes. 47 “Truly I say to you, that he will put him in charge of all his possessions. 48 “But if that evil slave says in his heart, ‘My master is not coming for a long time,’ 49 and shall begin to beat his fellow slaves and eat and drink with drunkards; 50 the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour which he does not know, 51 and shall cut him in pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites; weeping shall be there and the gnashing of teeth. NASB
The contrast between the “sons of light” and those “in darkness” is one that can be clearly discerned by our lifestyle. True Christians honor God by the way they live, both in their abstaining from sinful activities like drunkenness and immorality, and live holy lives of purity and sobriety before the Lord.
2 Peter 3:11-13 – 11 Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, 12 looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, on account of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! 13 But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells. NASB
On this basis Paul tells the Christians to live “alert and sober,” like people of the day, not to be asleep and unaware, like people sleeping at night. We are not to “sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober.” His point is clear, in regard to the Second Coming of Christ, we are not to be asleep, but awake and alert, paying attention to the events of day, being sure to not be overtaken suddenly by His coming, but living in holiness and eagerly awaiting our deliverance.
1 Thessalonians 5:7-8 – 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. NASU
A. For those who sleep do their sleeping at night, and those who get drunk get drunk at night – His point again is clear, in regard to the looming judgment of Christ’s Second Coming, we shouldn’t be unaware like we were sleeping, or morally uncontrolled as if we were drunk, “For those who sleep do their sleeping at night, and those who get drunk get drunk at night.”
B. 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 – Instead, “since we are of the day,” we should be aware and “sober.” Then he uses yet another analogy of the Christian life stating “having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation.” Here he is describing that our Christian faith is like being prepared for battle with the all the gear needed for warfare. The emphasis here is on being prepared, as if for warfare. This he describes as faith, love and hope, that beautiful triad of Christian virtue which is the possession of all who trust in Christ. This kind of armor imagery is common in Paul’s writings. See Eph 6:11-18, Rom 13:12-14
Romans13:12-14 – 12 The night is almost gone, and the day is at hand. Let us therefore lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13 Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts. NASB
1 Thessalonians 5:9-11 – 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. NASU
A. For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, – Here Paul is saying, “God has not destined us,” that is, the sovereign God is the One who holds our destiny. And that destiny is absolutely clear, it is not “for wrath, but instead for obtaining salvation.” God did not save us to destroy us, but instead to set His love upon us, deliver us and set us apart from sin, and to glorify His greatness by a mighty salvation which has come to us by His grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. Here Paul is continuing his thought from verse 5:1-2, describing what it will be like at the coming “day of the Lord.” The unbelieving world will be unaware of His coming and “suddenly destroyed…..like a thief in the night.” But the Christians will not be “overtaken by that day as a thief,” but instead being “alert and sober” will in fact be delivered from the coming wrath, as verses 4:15-17 so clearly portray. First comes the deliverance and rescue, THEN comes the wrath and destruction. I repeat here that this is abundantly clear in the teaching of our Lord.
Matthew 24:37-42 – 37 “For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. 38 “For as in those days which were before the flood they were eating and drinking, they were marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, 39 and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so shall the coming of the Son of Man be. 40 “Then there shall be two men in the field; one will be taken, and one will be left. 41 “Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken, and one will be left. 42 “Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming. NASB
Noah was eagerly awaiting the coming judgment of God. He didn’t know the day or the hour, but He knew that God had said he would judge, and it would be in his lifetime. Therefore he was about the master’s business of building an ark, all the while the mocking rebels of the world looked on with amazement while he built the great ark in the middle of a place where it had never rained. But when the judgment came, Matt 24:38 says, “Noah entered the ark.” But the people of the world “did not understand until the flood came and took them all away, so shall the coming of the Son of Man be.” First came Noah’s deliverance, then came the sudden destruction of God’s “wrath,” of which the world was unaware, likely thinking it was a time of “peace and safety,” or at a minimum, another day as usual, eating, drinking, marrying, etc…
B. 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 – Can we have a greater proof that God will not destroy us than the fact that He sacrificed His Son so that we could live? Can He say in greater terms that He intends for our good and that our salvation is of such importance to Him that He would sacrifice the most valuable thing in the world to Him, even His only begotten Son? Indeed the Christ “who died for us” is proof of God’s love toward His called and chosen people, and sufficient means to save us from the wrath to come.
1 Thessalonians 1:10 – 10 and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who delivers us from the wrath to come. NASB
Paul now refers all the way back to 4:13-15 when he says, “so that whether we are awake or asleep, we will live together with Him.” His point here is, whether we Christians are alive now, or have passed away in death, “we will live together with Him.” Christian believers are now in Christ and shall never be separated from Him. Nothing in life, nor even death, can separate us from Him.
Romans 8:38-39 – 38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. NASB
Colossians 3:3-4 – 3 For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory. NASB
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