Sojourning Through Thessalonians, Pt. 10

Sojourning Through Thessalonians, Pt. 10

Study Guide, March 24, 2024

Pastor Clay Olsen

Often times in communication there is a difference between what is said and what is meant. That is readily apparent in lighthearted things such as like this: “So, two Privates were digging in a hole underground, but the Corporal was just standing there with his shovel. So one Private asks, “Hey, why isn’t the Corporal digging?” And the other said, “Oh, he has ‘Corporal Tunnel Syndrome’!” Yeah, kind of like ‘Carpal Tunnel Syndrome!’ Some of you have had that…I’m wrestling with it now, too.

But it’s amazing how the context of the communication can help clarify the whole thing. In Bible Hermeneutics, or principles of interpretation, there is a saying: ‘A text without a context is a pretext’…or a false text. In our sojourning through Thessalonians we come to a great example of just how much the context helps us better understand the text and the meaning of what the Apostle Paul is revealing to the Church. So let’s explore.

For the past couple of weeks, we have been examining the wonders and the encouragement of the Rapture of the Church as explained in chapter four. But now Paul turns our attention to the next prophetic discussion of the Day of the Lord. And the context reveals that this period, or this season, ‘times and seasons’, not only follows the great translation of the Church to Heaven, but has a very specific purpose, which does not include the Church. What do we mean? Let’s look.

1 Thess 5:1-11- “But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. 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. 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. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him. Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.” NKJV

So now we see a change in Paul’s revelation from teaching us about the Rapture of the Church to the ‘Day of the Lord’. And the key to the events of the ‘Day of the Lord’ is to see that the Day of the Lord is in relation to ‘the times and seasons.’ ‘Times and Seasons?’ Where have we heard that before? When Jesus was with the disciples on the Mount of Olives for His last commission for them, and for us, just before He ascended into Heaven, He told them this: “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:6-8 NKJV

Even then the Disciples were still wondering about God’s promised plan for Israel. But Jesus said, that was not their mission at this time. There would be a time when God will continue His plan for Israel, but it would be in the times identified as ‘the times and seasons’. As for then, and for now, what did He tell them that He was doing in these times, or in this ‘Age’? He told them that He was ‘building His Church’. Thus, their mission, and ours, is to be His witnesses to the world so that all who will receive Him as Lord and Messiah will become part of His Church! And when this part of God’s plan, this Church Age, has been completed, then God will continue His plan and will fulfill His promises to Israel during the ‘times and seasons’ of the end times and on into the future.

Now then, we know that the Disciples, along with many of the Jewish followers of the Messiah, knew of the many prophecies and promises that God had made concerning Israel to have a national identity forever, and to have lineage forever, and to even have a homeland forever. In the Abrahamic Covenant God had made this promise: Gen 17:8- “I will give to you and to your descendants after you, the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.” NASU Later in the Davidic Covenant God made this promise: 2 Sam 7:16- “Your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever; your throne shall be established forever.” 24 “For You have established for Yourself Your people Israel as Your own people forever, and You, O Lord, have become their God.” NASU And then in the New Covenant God made His everlasting promise as certain as can be made by saying: Jer 31:35-37- “Thus says the Lord, Who gives the sun for light by day and the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night, Who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar; the Lord of hosts is His name: If this fixed order departs from before Me,” declares the Lord,

“Then the offspring of Israel also will cease from being a nation before Me forever.” Thus says the Lord, “If the heavens above can be measured and the foundations of the earth searched out below, then I will also cast off all the offspring of Israel for all that they have done,” declares the Lord.” NASU

God is declaring that the laws of the Universe and the Heavens themselves would have to cease to exist before His everlasting promises to Israel would cease to exist. And, notice, God pointed out that not even their deeds would cause Him to cast off the offspring of Israel from having a national identity and a purpose and place in His kingdom forever. They would be judged, of course, but they would not be cast off. And just a note: Wherever the Bible says ‘forever’, it means ‘forever’!

However, the Jewish followers of God and students of the Scriptures also knew that God had promised that He would have to judge disobedience or idolatry or apostasy in Israel. Joel 1:15- “Alas for the day! For the day of the Lord is near, and it will come as destruction from the Almighty.” NASU

Zeph 1:6- “And those who have turned back from following the Lord, and those who have not sought the Lord or inquired of Him.” 14-15- “Near is the great day of the Lord, near and coming very quickly; Listen, the day of the Lord! In it the warrior cries out bitterly. A day of wrath is that day, a day of trouble and distress, a day of destruction and desolation, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness…” NASU

Note here the association of ‘wrath’ with the ‘day of the Lord’. ‘Wrath’ is a description of ‘judgment’. And one people group is pointed out particularly in having to endure this ‘Day of the Lord’, or this ‘period of time’ or this time referred to both as ‘times and seasons’, and also as ‘Jacob’s trouble’. Note Jer 30:7- “Alas! For that day is great, so that none is like it; and it is the time of Jacob’s trouble, but he shall be saved out of it.” NKJV

Again, those who knew about God’s promises to Israel to have an eternal identity, a constant lineage, and an actual homeland, also knew of this period of time in the ‘end times’, this time of ‘Jacob’s trouble’, as being a reference to Israel, when God would purge His people in a judgment of them, and also, and especially, a judgment upon a wicked world in a period of time, which Jesus said, that in this world there had never been, nor would there ever be anything like it again…a time otherwise known as ‘the Tribulation Period’. In the end times, God will pour out His judgment on this unbelieving and wicked world, even those, to whom as Jesus said, ‘He came to His own, but His own did not receive Him.’ But remember, Paul had also said, ‘all Israel will be saved’. What did he mean? He meant those who are Israelites both by birth and by spiritual rebirth…they will turn to their Messiah and be saved and will inherit these forever promises that God had made in the Abrahamic, Davidic, and the New Covenants.

So think about it: Why the attempted eradication of the Jews by Pharoah of ancient Egypt? Why the attempted eradication of the Jews by Herod in the days of Jesus? Why the attempted eradication of the Jews by Hitler in WW11? Why the attempted eradication of the Jews by Hamas and many in other nations of the world today? It’s all Satan’s continued attack against both the people group God chose for special purposes and plans and against God’s promises to them. It’s Satan’s continual attack against God’s plans and God’s promises. But just like the Church is God’s remnant from the nations of the world, so believing Israel is God’s remnant from that nation, as more and more Israelites by birth also become true Israelites by rebirth in receiving Jesus Christ as Lord and Messiah-Savior. That’s one reason we are called to pray for the peace of Jerusalem…both for the sake of those who will believe and for the sake of God’s precious promises to all of God’s people!

In fact, even though the Tribulation period will be a time of great judgment upon unbelieving Israel and the other nations, it will also be a time of great evangelism and salvation for countless believers from among both Jews and Gentiles of the nations. Notice: From out of the Tribulation period we see this: Rev 7:2-4- “And I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun, having the seal of the living God; and he cried out with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was granted to harm the earth and the sea, saying, “Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees until we have sealed the bond-servants of our God on their foreheads.” And I heard the number of those who were sealed, one hundred and forty-four thousand sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel.” These are just part of the Israelites who will receive their Messiah. They have a special work and witness in the Tribulation period. And then it continues with this: 9-10- “After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands; and they cry out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” NASU

How amazing, that in the midst of these final seven years of this present Earth before the renovation to the Earth for the Millennial Kingdom, that it will be a period of unprecedented judgment upon the Earth, and yet it will also be a period of unprecedented evangelism and salvation upon the Earth!

But now, back to Thessalonians. So now, this period that is referred to as the Day of the Lord, not like a 24 hour day period, but this unique ‘end times and seasons’ period…this ‘Day of the Lord’ period has a specific purpose of judgment that is characterized by God’s wrath upon an unbelieving world, out of which, thank the Lord, many will repent in the midst of that wrath, from both Jews and Gentiles, before the King descends to the Mount of Olives and then declares and imposes His rightful rule over all the Earth. Which is a long way to say this specific truth that we find in verse 9 – “For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him. Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.”

Earlier Paul told these Thessalonian believers that he did not want them to be ‘uninformed’ about the next fantastic event of the ‘catching away’, or of the ‘translation’, or the ‘Rapture of the Church’. And now he tells them that even though they have learned some things about the end times, he doesn’t want them to be ‘misinformed’ about the following events of the times and seasons of the ‘Day of the Lord.’ He even reminds them that they no longer belong to this world that is destined for ‘wrath’, for they are no longer ‘people of darkness’, but they, and we, are ‘people of light’, as he says in verses 4 and 5. Remember, that’s what the Apostle also wanted the Colossian believers, and us, of course, to know as well. Look at this: Col 1:11-14- “We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy, always thanking the Father. He has enabled you to share in the inheritance that belongs to his people, who live in the light. For He has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of His dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins.” NLT

This is something very important that God wants us to be very clear about; that we no longer belong to this unbelieving, unrepentant, Christ-rejecting world…this kingdom of darkness. As spiritually reborn people, God has already transferred us into a new realm, into a new kingdom. We are already permanent citizens of the Kingdom of Light. We belong to God’s Kingdom, God’s world, God’s forever family. This world is passing away. Yes, we are still God’s stewards of the planet, but as far as this world’s system of false beliefs, along with the condemnation that it is under and the judgment that is coming upon it…we are only strangers, travelers, sojourners, who are simply passing through this passing world.

And, yes, although God’s people have always experienced persecutions and tribulations, just like Jesus said that in this world we will have tribulations, still, as Paul pointed out in Thessalonians, and as John pointed out in Revelation, and as Jesus pointed out in the Gospels, there is a particular period of Tribulation, the Day of the Lord, the day of wrath, that is coming upon the world in the end times that has never been seen nor ever will be seen again on the Earth. And Paul says to the Church, to all who no longer belong to this world that is under this judgment of wrath…the Apostle essentially says, ‘But we are not destined for this ‘wrath!’ This period of judgment, this ‘Day of the Lord’, is not intended for the Church. We are destined for what will happen when the Lord descends from Heaven with a ‘shout!’ We are destined for deliverance from those final days of wrath upon the Earth!

So while we watch for the Lord’s return we are to do the work that the Lord has given His Church to do – to be His witnesses of the saving Gospel of life to a lost and dying world. We have to be alert and clear-minded. We are to daily be dressed for battle against the world, the flesh, and the devil. And then, just as the Apostle closed his teaching on the Rapture, with: “Therefore, comfort one another with these words.”…he also closes this teaching on the Day of the Lord with: “Therefore, encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.”

Again, you can’t get any more comforting teaching than the fact that as Born-Again members of Christ’s Church, our soon deliverance from this dying and decaying world could come any day now. And you can’t get any more encouraging teaching that, as Christ’s Church, we need not fear the coming unprecedented judgments of the ‘times and seasons’, of the Day of the Lord, that will come upon the world soon after the great deliverance of the Church!

And thus, from out of this unique comfort and out of this unique encouragement we are to build each other up in our unique relationship with Christ and to also help each other carry out our unique commission of witnessing to this lost world.

Maranatha! Even so, come Lord Jesus!