1 Thessalonians Lesson 9: The God Who Comforts Us, Part 2
Chapter 5: 1-11
“But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. 2 For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. 3 For when they say, ‘Peace and safety!’ then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. 4 But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. 5 You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness.
6 Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. 8 But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. 9 For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him. 11 Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.”
As I mentioned last week, we will be back in this text as we explore the God Who comforts Us. Last week we talked about the return of Jesus. This event is referred to as The Day or That Day. Now the return of Jesus, as we discussed, happens in two parts. The first part is the Rapture when we meet Jesus in the air. The dead in Christ will rise first, and then we which remain will be caught up (raptured) and meet Jesus in the air.
You can re-read 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, then read Revelation 4:1. If you take the context, in the first three chapters, the church age is laid out with the seven predominant types of churches that will exist and the predominant ones for each age, ending with the Laodicea church at the end of the church age. In Revelation 4:1, we see a door open in heaven, there is a sound like a trumpet, and we are ‘caught up.’ This is the rapture at the end of the church age. The second part of The Day is in Revelation 19:11 when Jesus returns WITH the saints to conquer earth, defend Jerusalem, and set up the 1000-year Kingdom. These events all make up The Day.
- Conflicting Terms, verses 3 and 11
Destruction and comfort seem to be conflicting terms. But it all depends on which side of the grace of God you are on. Take a look at the world around us; for sure, we can see the destruction that is coming. Take a look at your own house; can you and your spouse borrow tons and tons of money without end and financially survive? Why? We all know that borrowed monies eventually have to be repaid. Yet, our governments are doing just that. They borrow and borrow trillions and trillions of dollars, and in the back of our minds, we know that it has to be repaid.
Let me explain this for you a bit because those of us who have never held a million dollars, furthermore a billion, have a hard time understanding how much money our governments burn through. According to an article from ABC7news.com, if you had one billion dollars, you could spend $5,000 per day for more than 500 years before you ran out of money. To be crazier, if you spent $100,000 per day, it would take 25 years to run out of money. If you stacked one billion dollars in one-dollar bills, it would take about 30 years before you stopped stacking. A trillion dollars is 1000 billion. This is a path of destruction, and we know that it will come; but to us that know the Lord, it is a sign of comfort. Or, at least it should be.
We can see the Bible playing out right before us, and we can have confidence in it. But we are going to suffer, you say. Maybe. But it will be for a short time. Who says we will suffer? The Psalmist says that he has never seen the seed of the righteous begging for bread (Psalm 37:25).
What will be times of catastrophic destruction for the world system will be the glorious revealing of our faith. Our faith will become sight. While they are suffering, we can rejoice that God’s word is true and trustworthy. We don’t want to rejoice in their suffering as people; this is not allowed according to the scripture, but we are allowed to rejoice that God’s word is true and reliable. This is how we truly comfort each other; we help each other to have confidence in God’s word. This is why it is so important to know the Bible, to study it, and make sure we attend churches where the Word of God, the Bible, is front and center. It is the focal point of all that is done in that church.
We can see the collapse of society happening almost in slow motion; they think that they are progressing and becoming more and more utopian, but the truth is they are creating a more hostile and broken society than any we have seen in 50+ years. When the government wants to do for people what God told them to go out and do for themselves, they create damaged and entitled people. When governments try to be God, they end up hurting the people they claim to want to help. The people doing the helping always think that they are superior to the ones being helped. This begins the destruction; they think that they are creating ‘peace and safety,’ but they are paving the way to destruction. It is sad to see, hard to watch, and a sobering reminder that God is true all the time.
- Be Prepared, verses 6-8
There is a very famous man on TV – I guess infamous is a better term. He is on religious broadcasting, and he is always peddling ‘doomsday’ kits. Things like food rations and flashlights, and on and on. Some would call him a preacher, but I would not stain the position by calling him a preacher. He warns us to be ready for the end times. It appears that he and his listeners are going to be here for a large part of the Tribulation or maybe all of it. The idea of his pitch is to be ready. Paul, a true preacher, has a different take on being ready for The Day. He tells us here in verses 6-8 what we should do to be ready.
Do not sleep; rather, be watching and sober [in your right mind]. The word of God is designed to keep us in our right minds. We are not to be hysterical and conspiracy theorists; we deal in facts — the facts of God’s Word. As well, this does not mean not to go to sleep; rather, it means that we are ever watchful and awake to the things around us. We are to be able to assess the events of our day and come to sober conclusions based on the word of God. This then frames how we live, how we love, how we prepare for the future.
The tendency for many is to get off the grid and to seclude themselves. We watched a show about this, and it is very interesting and tempting. We can just hide until Jesus comes to get us. But that is not sober thinking; rather, we are to be ever more vigilant with the Gospel. Why? Because God is patient and loving, and He wishes all to repent (2 Peter 3:9).
We are to protect our hearts and minds; we are to have the breastplate of faith and love and the helmet of salvation. These are parts of the same armour mentioned in Ephesian 6. Faith and love go hand in hand. We can become bitter and cynical when we lose our faith. Peter tells us in 1 Peter that some lose their faith so much that they deny the Lord who bought them. Yes, supposedly saved people denying the Lord. They become the truest enemies of the Lord’s churches. It is important that as we see The Day approaching that we have our faith grounded in the Word of God and that we continue to love God and love others sacrificially.
I have a confession. When I realized that President Trump had lost the last election, I could not understand it. I argued with God as to why He would stand by and allow this to happen. Why take power from a man, though very rough around the edges, who had stood for and with Israel, had promoted the Bible, and yes, even the Gospel so openly. Why? I was disillusioned for a long time. But then I began to understand more and more that all these men, Trump included, are just pieces of God’s puzzle; God put him there to advance the plan, and now He has put President Biden there to further advance the plan. My job was not to question God’s choices but to accept them and keep the faith, love my God, and love my neighbour. God is in control; it is His plan, and He will not be outplayed at the game He invented.
Then the helmet of salvation; keep your head right. We are children of God. He has our backs, and He will never abandon us; it would be the same as abandoning Jesus, and God the Father would not do that. As we wait for Jesus to come and get us, let us keep maturing in Him. Let us surrender more and more to His will and His ways; let us become more and more obedient. Let His salvation work out in and through us as we live for Him. We should not let Jesus’ return cause us to become lazy; rather, more diligent and determined to be more like Jesus. I am not this way all too often. I get complacent and lazy. I pray that you don’t.
- Not destined for Wrath, verse 9
The wrath of God was poured out on Jesus at the cross so we could have the blessings and favor of God. We are no longer appointed to the wrath of God, and what is coming in the world is the wrath of God.
Many people say that there is the Tribulation, and then the last half is the Great Tribulation. These are legitimate divisions as per the scripture, but nonetheless, the whole thing is the wrath of God. I don’t know about you, but Revelation 6, describing the very beginning of the Tribulation events, seems very wrathful to me. We are NOT appointed to wrath. Rather, we are appointed to obtain salvation in Jesus. Well, Paul was already saved; he did not have to obtain it. So, he is not talking about salvation from sin; that had happened to him on the Road to Damascus. What he was talking about, and the context confirms, was that wrath of The Day; we are not appointed to that wrath. In Jesus, we have salvation from that wrath.
These promises are the words we need to comfort each other. These truths, these clearly expressed statements of joy, help us to get through, help us to endure, and help us to handle the few bumps and maybe even a few seemingly dangerous tides as they come. We may be hurt, some die, but we are still not appointed to the wrath of God; Jesus took that for us. The road ahead may become – well, truthfully, will become rough at times. The road ahead may be fraught with danger as the hatred for the truth becomes more and more vicious. But stand fast, stand firm, trust God (faith), serve others (love), and share the truth of the Gospel.
God bless you,
Dr. Sean Gooding
Pastor of Mississauga Missionary Baptist Church
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