The Day of the Lord
Text: 1 Thessalonians 5: 1-11
Proposition: TheDay of the Lord is what the Christian looks to as the greatest point of transition in the history of humanity, full of both terror and joy.
Introduction: Have you ever seen that sign in some store window, ‘Under New Management’? You’d expect to see new owners, new décor, new products and services that are better and more appealing than before. So there you are standing in front of the shop window looking at that sign when the new owner reaches into the window and takes the sign out of the window. He comes out and smiles at you and then he puts the sign around your neck and it a split second you know it’s no joke. Suddenly everything you always considered to be yours has been turned over to new management, absolutely everything and absolutely under the direction of the new management. Do you feel the pull in your soul against that? What if I could assure that the New Management was absolutely good, perfect and godly and righteous in all motivation and action? What if I told you that the New Management was God the Father, that you completely belong to Him, does the pull in your soul against this relax some? But then to your surprise you see that it is Jesus who has put the sign around your neck yet strangely you feel yourself still wanting to resist His absolute claim to complete ownership over you.
What if I told you that this is not a hypothetical idea but is the very reality that the Bible points us to? What I’m talking about is not the day of your salvation, the day that you believed in Jesus and then began to understand what it means to be a Christian. No, I’m looking past that day to the day when you and I and the entire world we live in, no longer resists and pulls back against His New Management. What I’m talking about is the Day of the Lord.
Let me explain briefly what this term means. Everything from the Creation of the world to the present time has been the world under the command given to man to go forth and multiply and take dominion over the earth. So you could say that the last six thousand years or so of mankind’s history could all be called The Day of Man. To be sure God is sovereign over it all yet permissively He has given mankind great latitude to reject, rebel and resist Him and yet since the time of Noah He doesn’t destroy mankind for doing so. The transition point when the Day of Man ends, a ‘Day’ that lasted for more than six thousand years, and the time when there is an absolute shift in the way God then relates to mankind is what I believe is meant by the Day of the Lord. So it too doesn’t refer just to a single 24 hour kind of day but rather to the beginning of a new era. Whenever the prophets talked about the Day of the Lord they referred to it in five different ways: 1. It was coming soon; 2. It was a certainty; 3. It was a time of judgment; 4. It was a time of repentance and 5. It was a time of great renewal. In the early church of Paul’s day this was one of the first points of doctrine they taught. The wonder of salvation in Christ was not just for an earthly sanctification, it was for an eternal heavenly kingdom that would be realized at a great point of transition in mankind’s history called The Day of the Lord. So when Paul talks about the Rapture of the church in Thessalonians 4 he is essentially talking about the resurrection of the righteous that will mark the beginning moments of the Day of the Lord. But the term extends past this point to an actual coming of Christ with His Saints to the earth to end the anti Christ’s attempt at a new world order. The actual Second Coming of Christ to the earth is also referred to as the Day of the Lord as is the 1000 year reign of Jesus and the eternal state which follows after. So the Day of the Lord has two phases to it’s beginning, a time when the church is called up to the Lord in an event we refer to as the Rapture and a time seven years later when Christ returns to the earth to permanently usher in the Day of the Lord. I tell you this because this was foundational teaching for every young church, just as it was for the Thessalonians. So with these introductory thought in mind let’s read 1 Thessalonians 5: 1-11.
I. The Day of the Lord Is Imminent Yet Unpredictable.
Paul starts this chapter by acknowledging the Thessalonians are already familiar with this teaching, “concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you.” The times refer what the prophets and what Jesus Himself had instructed them as to when these things would happen. The ‘seasons’ is likely a reference to what happens in the times. If you were to turn to Matthew 24 you’d hear Jesus describe in detail what the Day of the Lord will contain and then in the mid point of that description Jesus says in Matt 24:34, 36 , “Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place… But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.” So you can see why Paul and Peter (2 Peter 3:10) felt that this was an event that could unfold at any time and yet the time was veiled from the people, from the angels and even from Christ Himself. The doctrine of the imminent return of Christ is an important foundation stone for our faith, it is meant to call the church to a prepared state of being holy, of reaching the lost and at the same time it proclaims the great patience of the Father as He holds out His arms all day long to those He seeks to save, just check out 2 Peter 3 to see that truth. The timing and fulfillment of the Day of the Lord is known only to the Father yet it will come as Paul said, like a thief in the night. It was phrase that Jesus had used to describe the Day of the Lord, meaning unexpected and with great loss to many.
II. The Day of the Lord is a Certainty That Brings a Sorrow.
The image that is used to convey the absolute certainty of the Day of the Lord is that of a woman who is pregnant and about to give birth. There may be times at the beginning of her pregnancy when it looks like there is nothing happening but the baby develops and soon it becomes more and more apparent that this will take place. The sorrow that is referred to are the labor pains, the signs that the baby is soon to come. Look again at Matt 24 to see some of those signs, “the rise of people claiming to be the Messiah, the increase in wars, the persecution of Israel, lawlessness abounds and the love of many grows cold, the gospel is preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, the abomination of desolation appears in the Temple…” these are some of the labor pains that proclaim the certainty of the Day of the Lord yet for many who refuse Christ it will be a time of great sorrow.
III. The Day of the Lord is a Time of Judgment, Repentance, Renewal.
In 1 Thess 5:3 Paul writes, “For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape.” Even for the nation of Israel it will be a time of great suffering referred to as Jacob’s trouble (Jer 30:7) . When you read the Book of Revelation you see the judgment of the Lord upon the nations of the world, how they are gathered for a great battle on the plains of Meggido. Like the plagues of Egypt that were meant to be both a warning and call to repentance to bring them to release the people of Israel so will the Day of the Lord begin with great plagues meant to call people to repentance in Christ. In that Day Israel returns to Christ, 12,000 from each tribe turn and become great evangelists and pay for it with their lives. The tribulation period is a time of great judgment as God pours out His wrath upon the nations that rejected Him and have persecuted Israel. Following this period of seven years of Tribulation the Lord comes to the earth and begins the establishing of His kingdom come, His will being done as in heaven. This period is marked by a great renewal in creation and in the governance of all the world’s people. Isaiah 11 gives a cryptic glimpse of this renewal, verse 6 of that says “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.” It describes the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ at that time of the establishing of His Millennial rule over the earth, “There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots. The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him, The Spirit of wisdom and understanding, The Spirit of counsel and might, The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD.”
But here’s the main point of what Paul writes to the Thessalonioans and to us this morning…. Knowing all this don’t fall asleep with the distractions of your life, don’t fritter away your life, don’t be in a haze as the drunk man is and life walks right past him. In verse 4,5,6 he says, “But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober.” The Day of the Lord is imminent, it is a certainty, it is a time of great judgment, it is a time of great repentance, it is a time of miraculous renewal so church be awake, be prepared, “putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation.”