Wednesday, 16 August 2017
For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. 1 Thessalonians 5:2
To explain what he just said in the previous verse about “time and seasons” being unknown even to believers, Paul now says, “For you yourselves know perfectly.” The word means “accurately” because it is examined down to the minutest detail. It is as if a probing examination has made the determination completely sure and there is no reason at all to go further.
This shows us that Paul had already discussed this part of the matter with them. They had not been given the incredible details of what the resurrection of the dead at the rapture would be like, and so those details were penned by him in Chapter 4. But they had been told about when the coming of the Lord would be. Someone had probably asked, and Paul then gave them his complete answer so that the matter would be settled. And that answer to them concerned “the day of the Lord.”
This “day of the Lord” is explained in the coming verses, not as the rapture, but as what follows the rapture, meaning the “day of the Lord’s judgment” upon the world. It is a seven year time-frame which is explained by the prophets and apostles in numerous passages. Paul’s words are then explained further in 2 Thessalonians 2 with these words –
“Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, 2 not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come. 3 Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, 4 who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.” 2 Thessalonians 2:1-4
In this passage from 2 Thessalonians, “the day of Christ” (some manuscripts say, “the day of the Lord), will not come until after the rapture of the church. The words “that Day will not come” are inserted by the translators for clarity, but they are correctly inserted. As “the day of Christ” is the nearest antecedent, it is speaking of that event. The reason for Paul telling them this was because some had obviously told the Thessalonians that it had arrived. This gave them reason to fear that they had missed the rapture which he explained in 1 Thessalonians. Paul wrote to them the second letter to show them this was not the case. Thus, these verses show that the doctrine of a pre-tribulation rapture is correct. First will come the rapture, and only then will come the day of the Lord which comes “as a thief in the night.”
This term is a simile which is used to indicate with all suddenness. There will be a time when the day of the Lord comes, and it will plunge the world into its self-destruct mode. And so what is correctly seen when taken as the Bible reveals these things to us is:
1) The church age
2) The rapture of the church (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)
3) The day of the Lord after the rapture (2 Thessalonians 2:2)
4) The revealing of “the lawless one” (meaning the antichrist) after the rapture (2 Thessalonians 2:8)
It is the rapture which initiates the unfolding of the next occurrence in the sequence of events, “the Day of the Lord.” As this event comes as a thief in the night, it is obvious that Paul is tying that phrase in with the “times and seasons” of verse 1. And as the antichrist is the one who is behind the 7-year peace deal with Israel, and as we will not know who he is because his identity is only made known after the rapture, then it is again plainly obvious that the rapture must be pre-tribulation. Each step is methodically recorded so we don’t have to fall into the error of misaligning the timing of the rapture as commonly occurs.
The main point is that actual timing of the rapture is not known, and it will not be known until after it has taken place. It falls under the “times and seasons” which both Jesus and Paul state we are not privy to. Unfortunately, Paul’s words, “For you yourselves know perfectly” apparently don’t pertain to date-setters. Time and again (and again) they set dates, and these predictions are always incorrect. The Lord told us that it is not for us to know these things, and Paul reaffirms the Lord’s word. And yet we presume to know better than those from Whom (and through whom) came the word of God.
Life application: The world is spiraling down the tubes, and we may have great fear that the Lord has forgotten about us, but such is not the case. When the time is right, and at the perfect time of His choosing, the Lord will come to gather us to Himself. Let us not set dates about when it will come about. Instead, let us do as we are instructed, and continue to tell others about what God has done in Christ. If we don’t do this, only terrible things lay ahead for them. It is either judgment at the cross, or judgment on the world who has rejected the cross.
Lord God, it is good to know that You have the “times and seasons” of all events safely guarded, and that You will bring those events to pass when You alone have determined. Help us be obedient to the commission which You have given us, and to proclaim the cross which frees us from the coming wrath. That is our job now, and it is a marvelous honor for us to share it. Amen.