1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 (ESV)
Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness. So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, are drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him. Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.
Ever since the early 1980s I have been keenly aware of, and watched the signs of the times. Having grown up Roman Catholic, I did not know much about the end times, as it is not a main focus, or was not, anyway. But at my first duty station as a Chaplain Assistant in 1982, I got involved with a group of Charismatic Christians.
I began looking into the end times prophecies (studying eschatology). There is still much to learn, as some of the prophecies are difficult and can be confusing, because we do not see and know everything that the Lord is doing, nor what He means by certain things. I think we are approaching the end, but it could still be a couple hundred years away, or it could be tonight. The Thessalonians thought they were in danger of missing the return of the Lord. Paul cautioned them that they should stay awake and be sober (meaning to be aware of what is happening, and to not be drunk on the ways of this world). We don’t know for certain when the Lord will return. What we do know for certain, is that God is in control, and has a plan.
God gave us many signs to look for in the Scriptures, and He said that when these things begin to happen, to look up, for our day of salvation is at hand (Luke 21:10-33). So here in Thessalonians, Paul says to encourage one another, and build one another up. This applies to us as much as it did to them. Obviously, 2000 years later, we are much closer to Christ’s return than they were. But when will it happen? We don’t know for certain. But we know the world is certainly getting more evil all the time. I believe it is close. But close is relative. The early Christian Church believed that it was imminent.
The most important thing is to stay focused on living each day as if Christ is coming tonight, because He may be.
Know that whenever it is, we will be with Him for all eternity. So keep watch, keep ready, look forward to the Day of the Lord. It will be a terrible day for those who are not His. It will be a glorious day for us that are His. Be encouraged by His promises.
by Virgil Stripes