(c). Description Of The Day Of The Lord
“Times and Dates” are often a preoccupation of some believers as they attempt to estimate the day of Christ’s return, but it is not for us to know what God has determined . Scriptures indicate that this day will remain unknown to us and will be a devastating time for unbelievers and an inauguration of the eternal expectation for all believers in Christ. For the sceptic, the day of the Lord will be unexpected and will be a surprise awakening to the reality of their life-long disbelief as they face the judgment of God for their rejection of Christ, for which there will be no escape; “for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 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.” . The expression “day of the Lord” was first used by the prophet Amos , and is used in the O.T. to describe an event when God will intervene with judgment and blessing in the affairs of mankind; and this thought continues in the N.T. . For the believer in Christ however, it will be a day of deliverance as we will be liberated from the pain of sin for ever . This day will come “like a thief in the night”, it will be a total surprise to the people who are proclaiming peace and safety for it will be a sudden destruction brought about by God’s judgment and “they will not escape.”
Paul reminds them that as believers in Christ they (and us) are not in the darkness of unbelief, we belong to the Light and will not be surprised by Christ’s return because we are looking forward to that day; “But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness.” . Since we do not belong to the “night or to the darkness” and are not like those “who are asleep”, making reference to the unbelievers who are indifferent to the fact that they are doomed to destruction; believers in Christ are awake to the fact of Christ’s expected return, and whether alive or “asleep in Christ” it is our hope to be united with Him for all eternity . He further expands on this by expressing “For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” . It should be noted here that our escaping the wrath of God is “His appointment or prior arrangement “ and not our choosing; when we decide to accept Christ as our saviour we are “clothed in the righteousness of Christ” and set apart from unbelievers being made ready to be revealed in the “day of the Lord” ; and he closes this section by recommending his readers, and us today, to encourage and build each other up in our faith as we look forward to “the day of the Lord”.
(d). Instruction For Holy Living
New believers in Christ need all the help that is available to them, both in Paul’s time and in our time, and here we see Paul instructing them in how they should conduct themselves in the Church and in their daily living. “Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work.” . First, they are to respect the leaders of the Church in Thessalonica because they have been appointed by God to lead, instruct and reprimand those that are in need of correction . His next instruction is “Live in peace with each other.”, and this is very important in the Church since there are people from various social status and it is easy for differences to come to the forefront .
“Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Joy for a believer in Christ is not superficial because it does not depend on circumstances or events, it is based on what Christ has done which should lead us to give thanks to God regularly for all He has done in our lives, regardless of our circumstances . “Do not put out the Spirit’s fire; do not treat prophecies with contempt. Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil.” It is so easy for several people or an important person in the Church to sow seeds of discouragement by unwholesome talk, bitterness and slander on activities that are conducted, especially if they are not comfortable with the proceedings: so Paul encourages them, and us, not to put out the Spirit’s fire . He also advises that we should test every “prophecy” and not to accept without question anyone who claims to speak in the name of the Lord, since every teaching must be in agreement with the Word of God . We are to hold on to the good and avoid all the evil.
In light of his previous instructions , where he speaks to the discipline expected of believers in the Church, making reference to working, respect to leaders, living in peace, expressing kindness and not retaliation; he concludes by expressing “May God himself, the God of peace” purify their entire being, and that they may be kept “blameless” or “above suspicion” until “the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ”. Paul expresses his confidence that God will complete what He has begun in their (and our) lives, “The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.” .