In our Scripture reading for today we continue the theme of The Day of the Lord that has been running through the Lectionary recently. Paul picks this theme up by instructing the church in Thessalonica to be ready and alert, and not to be spiritually or mentally asleep, and caught off guard. Paul also emphasizes in this passage the contrast between the two types of people in the world - those who belong to the light, and those who belong to the darkness. Let’s take a look at this passage.
No one knows when the Lord Jesus will return, nor when the Day of the Lord will be (vs. 1-3). There have been preachers in the past, and even now, who have tried to set the date of when Jesus will return, even though Scripture says no one will know when that will happen. Therefore, it goes without saying that these misguided, and sometimes even charlatan, preachers are completely wrong. What is this Day of the Lord that Paul is talking about? The Day of the Lord is a future time when God will intervene directly and dramatically in world affairs. This occurs when Jesus returns, and at this time He will judge sin and set up His eternal Kingdom. Paul compared the Lord’s return to the suddenness of a thief who breaks in your home during the night. A thief always breaks in suddenly and unexpectedly, and we never know when that will happen, otherwise we’d be ready. Just as it pays to be prepared for thieves, it is even more important to be ready and vigilant for when Jesus returns.
The false prophets in Old Testament times all spoke of peace and a bright future for the people. As we read in Scriptures, though, this was not the case. There many false prophets today who say the same thing, that God will never bring judgment to people, that He is only about love. However, the Day of the Lord will come (vs. 3), come suddenly, like labor pains.
In the next several verses Paul makes a sharp contrast between those who are the children of light and those who are children of the darkness (vs. 4 - 8). Believers will have no part in the judgment on the Day of the Lord. They have been delivered from the Kingdom of Darkness into the Kingdom of Light. When someone believes in Jesus Christ as their personal Savior they are brought out of spiritual darkness. The Bible makes a sharp contrast between born-again believers and the lost, between light and darkness. The unsaved are in darkness - both mental, moral, and spiritual, because of sin and unbelief. Jesus even calls them the “children of the devil” (John 8:44). He says that Satan has control or the power of darkness (Luke 22:53). In contrast, Jesus is the Light of the World (John 9:5). He lights our path, and shows us how to live for Him. We should be prepared and waiting for Him, and walk as children of the Light (Ephesians 5:8). The saved are children of God, who is Light, in whom is no darkness at all (I John 1:5-7). There should always be a very distinct and noticeable difference, a total separation, between those who are children of the Light, and those who are children of the darkness.
Christians are in the light. We should not be sleeping in spiritual indifference (vs. 6). Thus, Paul admonishes us to be alert to spiritual issues and to be that light and witness for the Lord.
Several times in different epistles Paul uses the picture of the Christian putting on and wearing spiritual armor, just as a soldier does. The most well known passage is in Ephesians 6:13-18. Here in our passage, in verse 8, Paul speaks of putting on the breastplate of faith and love. A breastplate protects the heart, lungs and other vital organs, and is very important for a soldier to wear. Having faith in Jesus, knowing His love, and having love for others are very important in our spiritual life. Paul also tells us to put on the helmet of the hope of salvation. A helmet is necessary, as a significant blow or wound to the head is often fatal. Without salvation our soul is doomed, and we need salvation, through Christ alone, to survive attacks of the Prince of Darkness, Satan. A strong belief in God’s Word protects us from Satan’s arrows.
Paul reminds us to serve Jesus faithfully until He returns. We should live godly lives in light of God’s coming judgment. Knowing that Jesus will return suddenly and unexpectedly we should live each day prepared to welcome Him.