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Isaiah 13:6-9 1
6 Wail, for the day of the Lord is near; it will come like destruction from the Almighty. 7 Because of this, all hands will go limp, every heart will melt with fear. 8 Terror will seize them, pain and anguish will grip them; they will writhe like a woman in labor. They will look aghast at each other, their faces aflame. 9 See, the day of the Lord is coming—a cruel day, with wrath and fierce anger—to make the land desolate and destroy the sinners within it.

thiefBackground

The threats within God’s word press heavily upon the wicked, and are a heavy burden, too heavy for them to bear. The persons brought together to lay Babylon waste, are called God’s sanctified or appointed ones; designed for this service, and made able to do it. They are called God’s mighty ones, because they had their might from God, and were now to use it for him. They come from afar. God can make those a scourge and ruin to his enemies, who are farthest off, and therefore least dreaded.

We have here the terrible desolation of Babylon by the Medes and Persians. Those who in the day of their peace were proud, and haughty, and terrible, are quite dispirited when trouble comes. Their faces shall be scorched with the flame. All comfort and hope shall fail. The stars of heaven shall not give their light, the sun shall be darkened. Such expressions are often employed by the prophets, to describe the convulsions of governments. God will visit them for their iniquity, particularly the sin of pride, which brings men to their knees. There will be a general scene of horror.

Biblical Truth 2

‘The day is coming.’ On that day, people will see clearly what God is doing. His powerful deeds will impress everyone. The date is God’s secret but on that day, God will punish proud people. The message is simple, frightening and to the point. No one, that is no one no matter where they are on earth will be spared God’s judgment.

Items for Discussion

  • What does overwhelming fear feel like?
  • What is God’s covenant with His people?
  • In order to guide His people to Himself, to God, what do you think God would be willing to do?
  • History tells us that God often punishes its people for their sins. Is there punishment today such as was in the Old Testament?
  • Can you think of examples when horror brought people closer to God?
  • Why do you think it takes horrible events to make people both fear and desire God?

 

1 Thessalonians 5:1-11
1 Now, brothers and sisters, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, 2 for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3 While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. 4 But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. 5 You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. 6 So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. 8 But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. 9 For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. 10 He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. 11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

Background 3

This letter is from Paul, Silas and Timothy. From these three, the apostle Paul was the main author. We do not know how much of the letter Silas and Timothy wrote. But all three of them were in agreement with what the letter contains. It may be the earliest of the letters of Paul that we have. Paul and his friends wrote it between AD 50 and AD 53. That is about 20 years after Jesus died and rose again to life. Paul was on his second main journey in which he spread the good news about Jesus. He and his friends were in the city of Corinth when they wrote the letter. We can be sure about this, and about the date, from the letter and the book of the Acts for these reasons:

  1. Paul had to leave Thessalonica and he went to the city of Beroea. From there, he went to the city of Athens (Acts 17). From Athens, he went to Corinth (Acts 18:1). Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia and were with Paul in Corinth (Acts 18:1-5). Then Paul sent Timothy back to Thessalonica to see what was happening with that church (1 Thessalonians 3:5). They wrote this first letter soon after Timothy had come back to join Paul and Silas in Corinth (1 Thessalonians 3:6).
  2. Silas and Timothy were with Paul when they wrote the letter (1 Thessalonians 1:1). Silas was only with Paul on his second main journey. So, we know that they wrote the letter during that journey.
  3. The ruler in Corinth was a man called Gallio. The Jews there, who were against Paul, brought him in front of Gallio (Acts 18:12-17). They accused him of breaking the law. Gallio was the ruler for one or two years, and that was between AD 51 and AD 53. As Paul was in Corinth for about 18 months, the date of the letter must have been in the period AD 50 to AD 54.

The purpose of the letter was to inform the church in Thessalonica over issues that Timothy saw while on a trip there. He came back to Corinth with news about the church at Thessalonica. He told Paul and Silas that the church was strong but that there was much persecution. Some people were saying bad things about Paul and his friends. These people claimed that Paul’s intentions were false. Then the Christians had many questions and were in need of more teaching. So the purposes of the letter included:

  1. To express the joy that the writers felt and to give thanks to God for the good news that Timothy brought.
  2. To tell the Thessalonians how much they loved them. And to tell them that they cared about them. The writers wanted to encourage them as they tried to live for the Lord Jesus.
  3. To answer the false things that the Jews and other people had said about Paul and his friends. These people said that Paul had come to make a profit from those who believed his message. They said that the message was not from God, but that Paul had made it up. They said that the fact that Paul had not come back showed that he did not really care about the Christians.
  4. There were questions about Christians who had died. They wanted to know what would happen to those Christians when Jesus came to earth again. The authors wrote about this (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18) and taught some more about the return of the Lord Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:1-11).
  5. To teach that those who trust in God must not be guilty in matters to do with sex (1 Thessalonians 4:4-8). Such sins were common in the city in which they lived.

Biblical Truth 4

Verse 1: The writers had answered the worries about those who had died. Now they turn to a new subject. This is the question of when Jesus will come again. It seems that some of the Christians had expected Jesus to come soon. But he had not come yet. There was no need to write to them to tell them that the Lord will come. They knew that. There was no need to tell them that the time of his coming is secret. But they did need instruction about what will happen when he does come back.

Verse 2: They knew about the day of the Lord and of his return, because Paul and his friends had taught them about it. But when that day would be, no one could know. This day is not a single day, as we understand it. Rather it is the day of the Lord, which covers many events.

Verse 3: The beginning of the day of the Lord will come as a surprise. Those who do not believe in Jesus will not be ready for that day. They will think that they are safe. It will be a time when at last there seems to be peace on the earth. But, at that moment, when they feel safe and at peace, ruin will come to them from the Lord. The dawn of that day will be sudden, just like the pains of a woman who is having a baby (Isaiah 13:8-9). There will be no warning and they will not be expecting it. They will not be able to avoid the anger of God. There will be no escape for them.

Verse 4: Those who do not believe in Jesus are like people living in the dark. They cannot see when the danger comes towards them. So, the coming of the Lord will surprise and shock them. Like a thief, it will come when they do not expect it. But, those who believe in Jesus are not living in the dark. The day of the Lord should not come as a surprise to them. They should be expecting it and they should be ready for the Lord to come.

Verse 5: In contrast to those who do not believe in the Lord Jesus, Paul describes all the Christians at Thessalonica as children of the light. Light represents life and also goodness. So children of the light are those who have God’s life. And they try to do good. Some of them may be weak or doubting in their faith. The writers encourage them by saying that they are all children of the light and of the day. When it is night, we cannot see where we are going. We cannot see what is coming to us. Those who do not believe in the Lord Jesus are like people who walk in the night. All who believe in the Lord Jesus are ‘children of the day’. They are people who do not belong to night and darkness. They can see where they walk. And they can be ready for what is coming.

Verse 6: Because they are children of the day, they should not be asleep. They should be awake to all that the apostles taught them. They know the truth and how they ought to live. Those who do not believe in the Lord Jesus do not know these things. So they are not aware of them. They are like those who are asleep.
Christians know what is right. And they are responsible for what they do. Those who have drunk too much wine lose control of their actions. Those who believe in the Lord Jesus must never be like that. They must always be in control of themselves. They must be ready for the day when the Lord shall come.

Verse 7: To explain what he means in verse 6, Paul states the normal pattern of life. People usually go to bed and sleep at night. Those who drink strong drink to excess often do so at night. Because Christians are not ‘children of the night’, they should keep awake. And they should not lose control as those who drink too much do. They are not talking about the sleep that the body needs. But they use that to show that Christians must be awake to the things of God. Those who drink to excess are not in full control of themselves. Those who believe in the Lord Jesus should always be ready for him to come.

Verse 8: Those who belong to the day are those who believe in the Lord Jesus. The word ‘day’ here represents the new kind of life that comes by means of faith in the Lord. They have this new life with the Lord Jesus. And that should cause them to be careful how they live. It is the reason why they must be in control of themselves.

Verse 9: God chose all those who have come to believe in the Lord Jesus. He chose them so that they would escape his anger when he judges the people of the world. He chose them to benefit from what the Lord Jesus has done. The Lord Jesus has suffered the anger of God for all that they have done wrong. So, as they accept this by believing in the Lord Jesus, they are free from God’s anger. The Lord Jesus has saved them from that anger and from the judgement of God. But more than that, God will raise them up to live again after they have died. So, they will live again with the Lord Jesus and with God.

Verse 10: Here is how Jesus Christ obtained our salvation for us. He died for us. He died the death that should have been ours because of our sin. God judged all our sins and Jesus took the punishment for us. So, he will save all those who accept that Jesus died for them and trust him. He will save them from the anger of God.

Verse 11: All who believe in the Lord Jesus have his promise. The promise is that, when he comes, they will live with him. So, they can encourage each other as they speak about these things. They can help those who have doubts and fears. They can help them by showing them that the Lord accepts them. The writers want them to help each other to be strong and certain in what they believe. They need to help each other to know God better and to love him more. They were doing this already but they should go on doing it.

Items for Discussion

  • How much time do we have to prepare for God’s arrival?
  • Why is no one in a hurry or paying attention is seems?
  • Drunkenness, and maybe today, drugs, are common. They must have been common in Jesus’ time too. What is their risk?
  • What comfort do you draw from verse 9?
  • Do you believe that God lets us use what we love for His kingdom? If so, why, if not why not?
  • Do you believe that God is directing us to just do what He wants for His kingdom? If so, why, if not why not?

Discussion Challenge

  • Why is verse 11 so important to the Christian Church?

 

Notes:

  1. NIV New International Version Translations
  2. http://www.christnotes.org/commentary.php?com=mhc&b=23&c=13
  3. http://www.easyenglish.info/bible-commentary/1thess-lbw.htm
  4. http://www.easyenglish.info/bible-commentary/1thess-lbw.htm
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