by Allan Knapp
1 Thessalonians 5:1–11 . . . The Day of the Lord
 Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you.  For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.  While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.  But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief.  For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness.  So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober.  For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, are drunk at night.  But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation.  For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,  who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him.  Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.
We have received a small glimpse of the surprise everyone will feel when Jesus returns. Who knew three months ago that the pandemic was coming? Life changed quickly and drastically. But the LORD has not come back yet, so Paul’s words to the Thessalonians are still important and applicable.
We may have lost a feeling of peace and security. There are many things to fear. What if the virus comes back like the Spanish flu did? What if the economy tanks terribly? What if another country attacks? What if anarchy reigns? What if, what if, what if?
What does Paul tell us? First, remember our destiny. Verse 5 says we are children of the light, children of the day, called, justified, and glorified as God’s heirs (See Romans 8:16, 29-30). Verse 9 reminds us that we anticipate salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Next, keep awake and be sober. ‘Keep awake’ does not mean you should pull successive all-nighters and always have your senses set at DEFCON 1 levels. Rather, it is a contrast to those who are asleep spiritually, being oblivious to their spiritual danger. The combination of awake and asleep in verse 10 was a comfort to the Thessalonians, telling them that all believers, alive or dead at the time of Jesus’ return, will be raised with Him. And being sober means more than not getting drunk; it is defined in verse 8 as putting on faith, love, and the hope of salvation.
Finally, remember this is a group effort. Encourage one another and build one another up. No matter when and where you attend a church service this Sunday, you won’t see all the members of URC; you won’t know who came and who stayed home (Unless, that is, you are Pastor Jason or Music Guy Jon Anderson). But we can all still pray for one another, make calls, send notes, encourage one another, and build one another up.
Note what has happened with the pandemic so far: The world has not ended. Churches, stores, and salons are opening back up. Fear and awe for God have increased in the faithful. We probably have all heard of conversions, and we pray and expect that thousands more have joined the ranks of believers. When confronted with another “what if,” remind yourself that nothing will surprise God like recent events have surprised us. He is in charge, He is faithful, and Jesus WILL come at just the right time.
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