FRIDAY, DECEMBER 8
SCRIPTURE: 1 THESSALONIANS 5
For a long, long time a lot of folks have wondered about how all of this will end. They have been curious about how all of this culminates. And, many times, they have been fearful of the last days.
God, in His graceful sovereignty, has told us much about the last days and end times. But, in His graceful sovereignty, He has also withheld some of the details. For His own reason, He has refused to tell us when the last days and end times will “officially” begin. But He has told us what to look for and what will happen.
At the end of the previous chapter, Paul wrote to us about the rapture of the church. The word rapture does not actually appear in the Bible. But don’t let that cause you to question the reality of it. The word Trinity does not appear in the Bible either. The word rapture actually comes from a Latin word which means to catch up or to be caught up (see 1 Thessalonians 4:17).
This catching up or rapture is actually a prophetic sign that the end times have come upon the earth. At the rapture, the church (all Christ followers) will be taken physically to heaven. That many countless people disappearing simultaneously will throw the world into an unprecedented turmoil. And out of that turmoil, the antichrist will rise with “all of the solutions to all of the world’s problems”. And he will soon become the one world ruler.
In verse 2, the Bible speaks of the “Day of the Lord”. This phrase can refer to a 24 hour period or to a longer time period. Here it refers to the seven year period of great tribulation that will begin at the very moment the church is raptured. Although other very intelligent and well-meaning folks might point to a different eschatological calendar, I am quite convinced that the rapture is the first domino that falls and that it is what starts all of the other dominos falling until the Second Coming of Jesus occurs.
In other words, the church (Christ followers) will not be on the earth during the Great Tribulation. Verse 9 says God has not destined us for wrath. And if you will take a look at the Revelation, you will notice that after the end of Revelation 3, the church is not seen on the earth again until she returns with Jesus at His Second Coming. For those reasons and others, I believe the church will not go through the Great Tribulation.
Although we as Christ followers will not be here for the Great Tribulation, we still need to know about it. I could make a very similar statement about hell. Christ followers will not be in hell but it is helpful for us to know about it. So, God tells us much about what will happen during the Great Tribulation.
Why would God want us to know about that? The closer the earth gets to the Great Tribulation, the more things will come into line to make the events of that seven year period possible. In other words, we can see things happening today that point to the Great Tribulation. The closer we get to the Great Tribulation, the closer we have to be to the rapture of the church.
Like us, the Thessalonians had lots of questions about all of this. There is nothing wrong with asking those questions and struggling for answers. But we should be careful about getting so wrapped up in eschatology that we forget to live out the Christian life. So, in verses12-22, Paul kind of gives us a laundry list of things we should be doing in the meantime. Those are really good things for all of us to strive for.