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Daily Distictives, May 8, 2015 (The Day of the LORD)

May 9, 2015

Daily Reading:

[1Th 5:1 NKJV]
But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you.

[1Th 5:2 NKJV]
For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night.

[1Th 5:3 NKJV]
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.

[1Th 5:4 NKJV]
But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief.

[1Th 5:5 NKJV]
You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness.

[1Th 5:6 NKJV]
Therefore let us not sleep, as others [do], but let us watch and be sober.

[1Th 5:7 NKJV]
For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night.

[1Th 5:8 NKJV]
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.

[1Th 5:9 NKJV]
For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,

[1Th 5:10 NKJV]
who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him.

[1Th 5:11 NKJV]
Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.

Daily Distinctive:

So…my aunt called me the other day and had some questions about the Revelation and the Rapture of the Church and so I was glad that I came across this passage of Scripture during my devotional time. And so I thought I would share this for my devotional today. It deals with the coming of Christ and has some commonly used proof text for a pre tribulation Rapture. I personally hold to this view of eschatology for several reasons, but even if we were¬†to endure part of the Great Tribulation (as is the belief of those who adhere to a mid-tribulation Rapture), or have to endure the fullness¬†of the Great Tribulation (as is the belief of those who subscribe to a post-tribulation Rapture), there is a prescription for how we ought to live as believers. In this day in age with the world in the state that we find it, one has to wonder if we will see this in our life-time. I personally hold that the Rapture of the church could come even before I finish this sen……….Ahhh see what I did there? I wish that were the case, but truly there is nothing but grace keeping Christ from returning today, this very moment. I say that because of the character of the LORD. He does not want to see anyone perish. I believe He is staying the Rapture to graciously provide many to come to Christ before the Rapture of the church. It is this graciousness that the LORD has and ultimately His sovereign will that makes Him tarry. And so I think that verses above serve to encourage us and provide insight as to how we ought to live our lives in expectancy of His return. So let’s look at these verses together.

[1Th 5:1 NKJV]
But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you.

Though this is the first epistle to the Thessalonians, it was certainly not the first time that Paul had spoken to the Thessalonians. On his missionary journeys Paul spent a couple weeks in Thessalonica and undoubtedly spoke to them regarding the coming of Christ and the end times. I know that every successive generation has pondered whether or not their generation would be the one that witnesses the Rapture. I am sure that Paul and those whom he taught thought that they might be the ones. Still, there are two factors involved with this statement: times and seasons. Times refers to the duration, and seasons refers to the characteristics surrounding the time, or in other words, the environment (the political, economic, social, but more importantly spiritual climate of the times). And so based on this information we understand that Paul had addressed the eschatological (end-times) ramifications of Christ’s return and the resurrection of the believer.

And so as it pertains to us today, we have the whole of Scripture to reference and the Holy Spirit to help us with discerning the times and seasons. And as we look around us today we see the unrest in the world, Christian persecution already surpassing that of the persecution believers faced in the previous centuries. And so it would appear that of all of the periods of human history, today it is certainly most ripe for Rapture. Still, there is a future before us and things can and likely will get much worse before the LORD returns for His church. We will just have to see. The fact is that we do not know the day or hour that Jesus will return, but we do know how we ought to live in light of His immanent return. Look at the next verse…we see that the believers in Paul’s time were left with the same conclusions.

[1Th 5:2 NKJV]
For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night.

The thing about thieves in the night is that you don’t know when they are going to come. The idea here is that it comes without expectation. Paul is saying that they have this fundamental idea down. Even so I don’t look at this concept as if Jesus is capricious in this. I don’t picture Him in heaven saying, “Hmmmm….let me wait until I catch them with their hands in the cookie jar so that I can come with vengeance.” I do believe it will be sudden, but it will be at the perfect time, when He sees fit. Again, I believe He is waiting until the fullness of the times when the last person who He foreknew would surrender to His majesty does so. And so you never know, you could be sharing the Gospel with someone and that person could be the last one. Then immediately when they surrender there will be this crazy loud trumpet sound and whoooooosh! We are with Christ! Wouldn’t that be awesome?!?!

[1Th 5:3 NKJV]
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.

Paul goes on to cement the idea of the unexpected nature of the Rapture. Now I use the word unexpected but not in the traditional sense. I say this because as believers we live in expectation of His return; however, we do not know when that time will be, and so from this perspective it will indeed be unexpected. Paul says that when they say “Peace and Safety!” that sudden destruction will come upon them. The idea here is that the world will have lulled itself into a false sense of security. People will think that everything is¬†copacetic. There will likely be a strong sense of peace in the world at the time that He returns. Now one only needs to look around and see that currently there are 65 countries today involved in some form of armed conflict with over 600 various armies, militias or groups involved in the fighting! How can there ever be a global sense of peace? When will anyone say, “Peace and safety?” Still we know that it will come.

I like what the fictional authors Tim LeHaye and Jerry Jenkins did with the whole “Left Behind” series. Although you have to take any fictional book with a grain of salt. But in their stories they painted a word picture of a world leader that comes on the scene and ushers in 3.5 years of world peace. This is possible. But the point that Paul is making here is that the world will be lulled into a false sense of security right before sudden destruction. One can only assume that Paul is referring to the period known as the Great Tribulation. Now we know that it is not the Second Coming of Christ that Paul is referring to here because we know see in context of other passages as well as this passage that when He comes, it will be unexpected, whereas the Second Coming is positively predicted and in a predictive time setting. We know that when Christ returns in the Rapture, it will be business as usual (as Paul says…peace and safety); whereas, in the Second Coming, the world will be turmoil and chaos. And finally we see in the context of Scripture that when He comes at the Rapture, we will meet Him in the air; whereas,¬†in the Second Coming, He will touch down on Mount Zion and we will be with Him already.

Notice too that Paul uses the analogy of a pregnant woman. Now I being a father, I know all about this expectancy. When my wife has been pregnant, the days leading up to the birth caused me know small amount of anxiety, or anticipation, depending on how you look at it. We knew that the baby was coming, still we did not know exactly when it was time to go to the hospital. We had our bags packed and we were ready to go at a moments notice. There was no escaping the fact that my wife was going to deliver, we just didn’t know the when.

And that is how we should be as believers today. We should be living in the expectation that Christ could come at any moment. We should have our spiritual bags packed and be ready to go. And so Paul gives us some insight as to what this looks like for those who he was writing to and certainly us today. Let’s look at the next verse.

[1Th 5:4 NKJV]
But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief.

The fact is that Paul is addressing believers, hence the use of the word “brethren” here. As believers then and today, we are illuminated with the knowledge of Christ and certainly by salvation as the Holy Spirit dwells or tabernacles with and in us. Using the analogy of the thief again, Paul argues that we are prepared. For the most part, a thief will not come in broad daylight and rob a place. Now you might argue that is not the case this day in age and you would be right (a further testimony of the signs of the times). But in Paul’s day, it would be ludicrous for a thief to come and steal during the day, for he would certainly be found out, captured and imprisoned. And so what Paul is saying here is that because we are illuminated with the knowledge of Christ’s return we will not be caught off guard. Instead of being oblivious, we are waiting with expectation and anticipation of His return for His church.

[1Th 5:5 NKJV]
You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness.

Of course Paul is referring to our security in Christ. In biblical context the use of night and day, darkness and light are metaphors for good and evil. As sons of the light and day, what Paul is saying is that we are holy and a saved people. We are not unbelievers who stumble in spiritual darkness and are blind to the things of the world and the ruler of this world. We know and understand that darkness is all around us but we are called to be salt and light in a dark and flavorless world.

[1Th 5:6 NKJV]
Therefore let us not sleep, as others [do], but let us watch and be sober.

You have probably heard it said, “there will be time for sleeping when I am dead.” Well there is some truth to that statement. In other words, when we get to heaven we can rest, until then we must plow forward with God’s agenda. Paul here is saying to the believers, “don’t rest on your laurels; don’t become apathetic or lethargic, don’t be complacent with regard to your purpose on the earth in light of His imminent return.”

His comparison here is between those who are sleeping and those who are watchful. The unbeliever is asleep with regard to spiritual matters. Paul, alluding to the thief analogy is simply saying, “listen, the lights are on, don’t go to sleep; remain vigilant and watchful, for Christ is coming!”

[1Th 5:7 NKJV]
For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night.

Paul carries this analogy further by stating that those who sleep, or the unbelievers, do so at the time when the thief is most likely to come. Not only do they sleep but they go beyond merely sleeping and get drunk. The idea here is that if they were merely sleeping they could be aroused by the thief, but in a drunken state there could be an earthquake and they would not be aroused from their drunken slumber. This is the sad state that the unbeliever will find themselves in when Christ returns. They are not looking with expectancy for if they did they would repent and surrender to Christ while it was still day.

[1Th 5:8 NKJV]
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.

Where the unbeliever sleeps and get’s drunk, figuratively speaking; the Christian remains sober and prepared for war. The idea of putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and the helmet of salvation may ring familiar to you if you have read Ephesians 6:11-17. The point that Paul is making is that as believers we must live soberly with the knowledge we have of Christ’s return. Furthermore, we are to live in faith and share the love of Christ, knowing that our salvation will be fulfilled completely on the day that Jesus comes for His bride, the church. Now, I am not saying that our salvation is not complete now. We can be secure in our salvation without fear of ever losing it (Romans 8:38-39), but the fullness of our salvation will be realized when we are with Christ in our glorified bodies at the resurrection. Let me put it another way. When a runner runs a race and in the final moments of the race he bounds across the finish line and the tape that was strung across the finish line flutters around him, he knows with all certainty that he has run the race. It is when he stands on the podium and is awarded the medal that his victory is certain. As saved believers we have victory, it was already won for us, we are just waiting for the prize!

[1Th 5:9 NKJV]
For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,

I love this verse particularly because it is used as a proof text for a pre-tribulation rapture. It is one of many reasons I believe that Christ will return prior to the Great Tribulation. Paul is saying that God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. Now some will argue that this simply means the same thing that is argued in 2 Peter 3:9, that it is not God’s will that any should perish but come to salvation through repentance. I suppose you could let that be your final answer, but¬†the fact that he uses the phrase, “appoint us to wrath” means that the LORD did not ordain our destruction. In the context of Christ’s return it would seem that this means a wrath to come, one that we would surely face if we 1) were not dead at the time that it happened and 2) if He did not return for us.

Another interesting aside here is that this dispels the notion that God has arbitrarily ordained some to heaven and others to hell. I have some friends that hold to a hyper-Calvinist view of unconditional election, limited atonement, and irresistible grace. While they have some compelling arguments for their stance, I believe, personally, that this is an unbalanced view of Scripture. And while I love my Calvinist friends, I don’t necessarily agree with their points as they most often lead to contentions within the body rather than fellowship over salvational issues. There are certain things which I would expect one to be dogmatic about, but these points seem to fly in the face of fullness of the Scriptures. To these friends I offer unconditional love, limited conversation, an irresistible desire not to debate with them, and perseverance in my own beliefs. Of all of the points of Calvinism, I can find one common point which I share with them, and that is the notion of total depravity. I believe that apart from Christ men are completely depraved. Not to say that they cannot function and show some of the common attributes of loyalty, love, respect, etc… But like the Calvinists I know, I believe that apart from Christ we cannot have salvation. And so the next time you run into a Calvinist and they want to debate, funnel the conversation to this point and you will find your time much more enjoyable. ;o)

[1Th 5:10 NKJV]
who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him.

And so in context here we have the idea that Christ is returning for His people but it is not limited to our current state of life or death. Christ died for us. Period. If we have salvation in Him then whether we are dead when He returns at the Rapture or alive we will be together with Him.

Looking back on the previous chapter we see that Paul is nailing home a statement that he made earlier. We know that dead in Christ shall rise and the living too shall rise when Jesus returns. Take a look at the following passage from chapter 4…

[1Th 4:16 NKJV]
For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.

[1Th 4:17 NKJV]
Then we who are alive [and] remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.

[1Th 4:18 NKJV]
Therefore comfort one another with these words.

And as in the last chapter Paul concludes with the idea that we should comfort one another with these words, we see this idea repeated here in chapter 5. Take a look at our last verse for today.

[1Th 5:11 NKJV]
Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.

And so Paul is saying here, that in light of the fact that Christ will return at some point we should live like He is coming today and this should be a comfort to us, a way that we edify one another, and that we should continue or remain steadfast in comforting one another.

Truly this is a comfort to me personally. In light of the knowledge that I have as a believer with regard to Christ’s return, I can be overjoyed. It is truly bittersweet. On the one hand I know and am excited for the LORD to return, and on the other hand I have to live in this world that is so full of pains and sorrows. On one hand I have the hopeful expectation of a glorified body and sinless eternity, on the other hand, I have the reality that I live in this corruptible flesh and have my¬†sin nature warring with my spirit. Still, if there is any comfort to be found, certainly it is in Christ’s return.

Daily Muse:

How do you trust someone that you don’t respect? How do you respect someone you don’t trust? It seems like a catch-22 and a hopeless situation. In any relationship, whether a friendship, a marriage, a business relationship, or even a spiritual relationship there has to be some level of trust in order to develop respect or some degree of respect to develop trust. The two are definitely not mutually exclusive but concordant to one another. And so I think about some of the interpersonal relationships that I have where there is a degree of hostility because of lack of trust or respect. It leads me to reason from Scripture that in Romans 12:10 a solution is present. If God’s WORD is true, and I believe it is (2 Timothy 3:16), then as hard as it is to deal with certain people who are difficult to deal with, it is incumbent upon me to take the first step to ending the perpetual cycle of distrust and disrespect. I think it would do me well to read and practice the bulk of Romans 12. Just a thought. But one that I will be giving attention to throughout the day.

Daily Prayer:

LORD, I love you! I don’t always get it right. Actually I feel like I hardly ever get it right. In my lowly state can you not hear my prayers? Are my offenses which are against You alone, preventing me from having an audience with You? Do I labor in vain? If You will not hear me then what is the point of this life? I am hopeless without You. I am in Your hands and even if I squirm and wiggle, or run away, don’t You go after Your lost sheep? Here I am LORD. My heart is surrendered to You. My enemies are eager to see me fall, with the same degree of expectation that I have in Your return, they wait with baited breath to see my destruction. They masquerade as the faithful but inwardly their hearts are set on my destruction. They say they are wanting me to come to an end of myself, but the reality is that they would be content with the end of me. Help me take my eyes off of my present circumstances. Let me rest in Your arms LORD. I am weary ¬†of the barbed tongues of those who oppress me. Lift Your servant up and preserve my life LORD. Remove me from my iniquities so that I can be blameless. If there is any truth in the accusations of my enemies let me see the truth and repent so that they will have no ammunition with which to shame me. I trust in You LORD. You are my life. ¬† ¬†-Amen

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