When Is the Day of the Lord?
Topic: 2nd Coming Verse: 1 Thessalonians 5:2–5:3
Theme: God’s judgment upon the wicked is just as certain as the blessing upon the righteous.
I. The Confidence in the Day of the Lord – 5:1-2a
A. The Curiosity in the Day of the Lord – v. 1
- Having settled their concerns re: what happens to their deceased loved ones at the Rapture of the Church, Paul now seeks to clarify some issues in what is going to follow the Rapture – the beginning of the “Day of the Lord.”
- He indicates that he is referring to a separate event by the phrase “Now as to the times and the epochs …”
- “times” [χρόνος] – a reference to the chronology or the amount of time before something is to happen, or a date on the calender.
- “epochs” [καιρός] – a reference to the events, eras, or seasons generally.
- The Thessalonians had apparently asked Paul to provide when the “Day of the Lord” would begin and if nothing else, please provide at least a general era when it was to occur.
- However, Paul informs them that it is futile to speculate – “… you have no need of anything to be written to you” since he had told them already everything that was available on the subject when he was with them.
- Although they desired to know more, nothing more was available – cp. Acts 1:6-7; Mark 13:32-33.
- God, in His wisdom, knows that to provide specifics as to when the “day of the Lord” will begin will foster laxity in those distant from that time and distress as it approaches.
- Instead, we are to trust the Lord, maintain confidence in the certainty of the Day of the Lord, and live in a constant state of expectation – cp. 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10.
B. The Certainty of the Day of the Lord – 2a
- Paul indicates that the Thessalonians have a full knowledge of the certainty of the Day of the Lord – “For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come …”
- The theme of the “day of the Lord” is dominant throughout the Old Testament prophets who anticipated the Messiah who would set the affairs of this world right – ushering in divine justice and blessing.
- They know “full well” [ἀκριβῶς] – a term that refers to focusing with careful attention, and accuracy – they had paid close attention at the teaching by Paul on the subject.
- They were confident in what they knew, they just wanted to know more and such knowledge wasn’t available to them through what Paul knew.
- More detail would be provided by the apostle John in Revelation, but that wouldn’t be provided until thirty years later.
- But, this didn’t keep them from the confidence that God would indeed fulfill His promises re: the “day of the Lord.”
II.The Character of the Day of the Lord – 5:2b
A. The Abruptness of the Day of the Lord
- Paul provides the character of the “day of the Lord” by saying that it “… will come just like a thief in the night.”
- The first observation that can be made about the coming of “a thief in the night” is that he doesn’t announce when he will come.
- That is, when it happens, it will be an unwelcome surprise, an abrupt shock.
- The simile of “a thief in the night” is also used by Christ to describe the unanticipated 2nd Coming – Matthew 24:43 and likewise indicates that His coming will be an abrupt shock and an unwelcome surprise for the ungodly.
B. The Adversity of the Day of the Lord
- The “day of the Lord” involves two elements that are exact opposites.
- First, the “day of the Lord” will be a day of wrath wherein God avenges Himself against the wicked – cp. Joel 1:15; Isaiah 34:8; 61:2.
- Second, the “day of the Lord” will be a day of blessing of the nation of Israel – a time of great outpouring of mercy and grace – God’s vengeance against the wicked will be consummated in the deliverance of Israel and the establishment of the Millennial Kingdom.
- The “day of the Lord” will include the Tribulation Period – beginning with the covenant of peace and the revelation of the Antichrist – cp. 2 Thessalonians 2:1-4, 8.
III. The Calamity in the Day of the Lord – 5:3
A. The Assumptions of Normalcy – “While they are saying, ‘Peace and safety! Then destruction will come upon them …”
- The wicked will be thinking that life is good – that everything is continuing as it has since creation – cp. 2 Peter 3:3-10.
- People will be misled by many false prophets who will assure them that all is well when the dam of God’s wrath is about the break upon them with vengeance – cp. Ezekiel 13:10-16.
B. The Affliction in Judgment – “… destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape.”
- The catastrophic penalty for the rejection of salvation through the Messiah will overwhelm them in judgement.
- “destruction” [ὄλεθρος] – does not refer to annihilation, but the ruination of life – that is, death or judgment – cp. 2 Thessalonians 1:9.
- Such condemnation is the inevitable end of wickedness – much like “labor pains” is the inevitability of “a woman with child … they will not escape.”