Sunday, July 28, 2013

1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:21 - The Day of the Lord

LINK: 1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:21


BACKGROUND

The Thessalonians were wondering what would happen to the fellow believers who had already fallen asleep (died, Mark 5:39; John 11:11-13) when the Lord returned. First of all, their souls did not go to sleep. Paul had already stated in previous letters that to be absent in the body was to be present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8; Philippians 1:23; 1 Thessalonians 4:14; James 2:26), but their physical bodies that were once asleep would be raised. We do not know when this will be.

Here is a progression of the events when Christ returns:

1) Christ will come down from heaven (Romans 8:34; Ephesians 1:20; Colossians 3:1; Hebrews 1:3).  
2) There will be a loud command, the voice of the archangel, and a trumpet call. Whether all separate or all together, this is the announcement of Christ's return (1 Corinthians 15:52). 
3) The bodies of believers in Christ will rise from their graves (1 Corinthians 15:35ff, 51-54. John 5:24-29; 11:21-27. These bodies will be glorified like the glorified body of Christ (Philippians 3:20-21; 1 Corinthians 15:47-58). 
Paul was mocked by the Athenian philosophers when he talked about the resurrection of the dead (Acts 17:32). Their philosophy taught that getting rid of the physical body was a good thing. They also did not think a decomposed body could be resurrected. 

4) Believers who are alive will be caught up in the clouds with Christ. The Latin word is rapto, meaning "to seize, to carry off" and is where we get our word "rapture." The Greek word is harpázō and means "to steal, to capture, to snatch, to seize, to take by force." 

1 Thessalonians 5 begins with the timing of the day of the Lord. This is a future time when God will intervene in human affairs. As you recall, we discussed it numerous times during our study of the Old Testament prophets (See link for the posts that contain THE DAY OF THE LORD). This day will be one of judgment and punishment, but we do not know when it will come because it will be like a "thief in the night" (Matthew 24:42-43; Luke 12:35-40; Revelation 3:3; 16:15). Paul goes into more detail about the day of the Lord in his second letter to the Thessalonians.


Since believers are not people of the night, they have nothing to fear. We are not destined for God's wrath because the blood of Christ has averted His wrath once and for all. Although we have no fear, Paul exhorted us to be alert and self-controlled, put on the armor of faith and love, build each other up, respect leaders, live in peace, warn the idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient, resist revenge, pray continually, give thanks, not quench the Spirit, not despise prophecies, examine everything carefully, cling to what is good, and avoid every form of evil. Whew!


The letter concludes with Paul's benediction of grace, peace, and sanctification on the believer in Thessalonica and an exhortation to have the letter read to all. 


REFLECTION


We are stuck between the "now and the not yet":


See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, 
that we would be called children of God; 
and such we are. 


For this reason the world does not know us, 


because it did not know Him.

Beloved, now we are children of God, 

and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. 

We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, 
because we will see Him just as He is.
And everyone who has this hope fixed 
on Him purifies himself,
just as He is pure.
1 John 3:1-3 



In the meantime we are to live godly lives of worship to God until He comes again.


“For to worship is to quicken the conscience by the holiness of God, 
to feed the mind with the truth of God, 
to purge the imagination by the beauty of God,
 to open up the heart to the love of God, 
to devote the will to the purpose of God.”
William Temple, a late Archbishop of Canterbury

APPLICATION


I remember once, while listening to this song many years ago, I caught a glimpse of the return of Christ and my place in all of it. Hope this ministers to you like it did to me this morning.

Here is the song on YouTube: http://youtu.be/tYTw6HGWANM


Amy Grant singing "The Now and the Not Yet"

(Lyrics by Pam Mark Hall)

No longer what we were before, but not all that we will be  
Tomorrow when we lock the door on all our compromising  
When He appears, He'll draw us near  
And we'll be changed by His glory  
Wrapped up in His glory  
  
We will be like Him  
For we shall see Him as He is  
No longer what we saw before, but not all that we will see  
Tomorrow when we lock the door on all our disbelieving  
When He appears, our view will clear  
And we'll be changed by His glory  
Wrapped up in His glory  
  
But I'm caught in between the now and the not yet  
Sometimes it feels like forever and ever  
That I've been reaching to be all that I am  
But I'm only a few steps nearer  
Yet I'm nearer  
  
No longer what we were before, but not all that we will be  
Tomorrow when we lock the door on all our compromising  
And He appears, He'll draw us near  
And we'll be changed by His glory  
Wrapped up in His glory  
  
When He appears, He'll draw us near  
And we'll be changed by His glory  
Wrapped up in His glory


PRAYER

I pray that we can live lives of alertness and self-control, looking for the glorious appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ. Help us to be holy in our actions until You come again. Amen. 


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