1 Thessalonians 5:1-11
But of the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need that I write to you.…
As when we ascend a winding river some well-known landmark appears to alter its position seeming now distant, now near, so at different points on the circuitous stream of life the coming of Christ reveals itself as a near or remote event. "It is plain," says Archer Butler, "that that period which is distant in one scheme of things may be near in another, where events are on a vaster scale, and move in a mightier orbit. That which is a whole life to the ephemera, is but a day to a man; that which in the brief succession of human history is counted as remote, is but a single page in the volume of the heavenly records. The coming of Christ may be distant as measured on the scale of human life, but may be near when the interval of the two advents is compared, not merely with the four thousand years which were but its preparation, but with the line of infinite ages which it is itself preparing." The uncertainty of the time of the Second Advent and its stupendous issues define the attitude of the Church.
I. IT IS AN ATTITUDE OF EXPECTANCY.
1. The time of the Second Coming is uncertain (ver. 1) — a gentle hint that all questions on that subject were unnecessary, as there was nothing more to be revealed. The curiosity and daring of man tempt him to pry into secrets with which he has nothing to do, and to dogmatize on subjects of which he knows the least. Many have been fanatical enough to fix the day of the Lord's coming (Mark 13:32). This uncertainty is a perpetual stimulant to the people of God to exercise the ennobling virtues of hope, watchfulness, fidelity, humility, inquiry, and reverence.
2. The Second Coming will be sudden (vers. 2, 3). The thief not only gives no notice of his approach, but takes every possible care to conceal his designs: the discovery of the mischief takes place when it is too late. The prudent will take every precaution to avoid surprise, and to baffle the marauder.
3. The Second Coming will be terrible to the wicked. "They shall not escape" (ver. 3). Wicked men are never more secure than when destruction is nearest. The swearer may be seized with the oath on his tongue: the drunkard while the cup is trembling on his lips. The destruction of the wicked and all they prized most in life will be sudden, painful, inevitable. Now there is place for mercy, but not then (Romans 2:8, 9).
II. IT IS AN ATTITUDE OF VIGILANCE.
1. This vigilance is enforced on the ground of a moral transformation (vers. 4, 5). Believers are translated out of the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light. They are "children of the day," when the sun shines the brightest when privileges are more abundant, when opportunities multiply and responsibility is therefore increased.
2. This vigilance must be constant (vers. 6, 7). Let us not, like the drunkard steeped in sottish slumber, be immersed in the sleep of sin and unconcern, neglecting duty, and never thinking of judgment; but let us watch, and, to do so effectually, be sober. We are day people, not night people; therefore our work ought to be day work; our conduct such as will bear the eye of day, the veil of night. A strict sobriety is essential to a sleepless vigilance.
III. IT IS ATTITUDE OF MILITANT COURAGE (ver. 8). The Christian has to fight the enemy, as well as to watch against him. He is a soldier on sentry. The Christian life is not one of luxurious ease. The graces of faith, love, and hope constitute the most complete armour of the soul. The breastplate and helmet protect the two most vital parts — the head and the heart. Let us keep the head from error, and the heart from sin, and we are safe. The best guards against both are — faith, hope, and charity; these are the virtues that inspire the most enterprising bravery.
IV. IT IS AN ATTITUDE OF CONFIDENCE AS TO THE FUTURE BLESSEDNESS OF THE CHURCH.
1. This blessedness is divinely provided.
2. This blessedness consists in a constant fellowship with Christ. "That whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him" (ver. 10). The happiest moments on earth are those spent in the company of the good; so will it be in heaven.
3. The confidence of inheriting this blessedness encourages edification (ver. 11).Lessons:
1. The great event of the future will be the Second Coming of Christ.
2. That event should be looked for in a spirit of sobriety and vigilance.
3. That event will bring unspeakable felicity to the good, and dismay and misery to the wicked.
Parallel VersesKJV: But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you.