Wait in faith: Devotional Commentary for August 15-21
This is the Word of God. May the Spirit of Truth give us wisdom and insight to receive what has been conveyed through His Word by His Inspiration.
1Now as to the times and the epochs, brethren, you have no need of anything to be written to you.
2For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night.
3While they are saying, "Peace and safety!" then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape.
After Jesus' Resurrection, His Ascension, and the coming of the Holy Spirit, the early Christian community was preoccupied with the Lord's Return and the affairs of the Endtimes. They were so future-focused that they neglected the present and the Great Commission with which they were tasked. So Paul commits the fifth chapter of his first letter to the Thessalonians to a series of instructive exhortations, giving clear direction on how to live as transformed children of God's redemption. He opens the chapter by telling Christians that there is no need to preoccupy one's attention with times and dates.
Even though Christ’s coming is certain, there should be no presumption on the time or the date of that glorious event. Paul reiterated what Jesus had already told His Disciples, exhorting them not to be concerned about things which remain undisclosed. The credibility of our Sovereign God the Almighty, Who presides over all things and determines the future and the certainty of all events, should be sufficient to provide comfort and assurance to all who anticipate Jesus' Return. The actual moment of this event is known only to the Father, Who has kept it to His own divine counsel.
Paul assures us that the exact time of the Lord's Second Coming is unpredictable, yet it is inevitable. It will arrive unannounced like a thief, who would come to a home in the night unexpected and unsuspected. It would be a great and fearsome Day. It would be frightening, sudden, and overwhelming.
The world will go on business-as-usual, self-absorbed with its activities, presuming that all is well. It will find false refuge in the institutions and arrangements it contrived for itself, believing that there is peace and security. But the Day of the Lord will come suddenly like the labor pains of an expecting mother. It will be intense, painful, and inescapable.
4But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief;
5for you are all sons of light and sons of day We are not of night nor of darkness;
6so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober.
In stark contrast to unbelievers, those who have been saved no longer live in spiritual darkness. We are the children of Light. We have the instruction of the Scriptures. We have the guidance of the Holy Spirit Who leads us into all Truth. We have been told, therefore, we know what is coming. We know our triumphant Lord shall return to judge the wicked and to gather His own unto Himself. We live and serve anticipating the occasion of the great Day of the Lord. Therefore, we should not be surprised at the Lord's Return.
For the redeemed, it is not the Day of destruction in the wrath of God’s judgment, but the consummation of our salvation in Jesus Christ. As believers, we anticipate Jesus' Return, justly expecting to see the face of the One Who died for us. Our faith will become sight, and our joy will know no bounds. Therefore, Paul exhorts us to be diligent in our life and service to God and never indifferent, disinterested, dispassionate, or complacent with our faith. We are the children of God and servants of the Most High, joyfully looking forward to the sure fulfillment of our hope in Jesus Christ and securely established in the sure promises of our Savior, having been made partakers of the blessed hope in God's redemption.
As we have already noted in our recent meditations, the early church was inundated with troublesome circumstances that relegated the Christian community to external as well as internal difficulties. They faced life-threatening persecutions and a formidable impasse at every turn. But the Spirit of God was with them and in them faithfully giding their steps through a triumphal ministry.
Perhaps due to an intense longing to leave this hostile world and unite with our Savior, members of the church were more anxious to know the time of their reunion with Jesus. Certainly, they rejoiced in the spiritual victory the Spirit gave them over their enemies. However, their desire was to be with Christ and to know when that glorious day might be.
Paul found this unwholesome focus to be toxic. He was concerned that such a corrupt insistence to know what God had kept concealed in His divine counsel would undermine the believer's faith. We walk by faith and not by what we figure out. We trust God and obey His Word.
Our faith is often undermined by an imbalanced perspective. We either feel abandoned because Jesus the man is not standing next to us, or become anxious to know when Jesus might return. In both cases, our natural reactions effectively expose a deep-seated lack of faith in Who Jesus is and in what He says to us.
Paul's inspired words strictly admonish us that we should not be that way at all. With Spirit-inspired calmness and composure, we should be confident about God's promises and remain alert with our services to Him. We are not called to live for the Day of our gathering. We are called to walk worthy of the vocation to which we are commissioned to serve. We should be encouraged by the certainty of the sure promise of our Lord's return to take us home. But we should not be preoccupied with the time of our gathering at the expense of our diligence to serve God in this dark world of wickedness, sin, and disobedience.
We are called, not only to trust in God, but also to be diligent in living for Christ and in serving God. God's living Word is God's Power cultivating faith and confidence in us, causing us to live by faith without fear or anxiety. Let our lives reflect the substance of our faith through a visible testimony of godly walk and peaceful spirit. Let us not suffocate our spirit with vain musings concerning the mysteries of divine counsel. Instead, let us be sober and alert toward God's revealed truth and glorify God with our faith in His promises, and become godly in what we do and say.
Let us be diligent in faith and in obedience, heeding what is revealed and doing what is inspired. Our hope in Christ is certain. The promises of God are sure. He will return to gather His own.