Text: 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11; 2 Thessalonians 1:6-12; 2:1-17
Our last study was about the rapture of the Church – the next great event that will take place.
This aspect of the Lord’s coming is the “blessed hope” (Titus 2:13); it is to be our daily prospect and anticipation, and the cry in our hearts should be Revelation 22:20!
But the coming of the Lord into the air to remove all His saints will be a most terrible and solemn time for the world, for the unbeliever, for there will then break upon the world a period of great distress, suffering and warfare.
This fearful and dark time is called the Great Tribulation (Matthew 24:21-22, 29-30; Mark 13:24; Revelation 7:14); “the day of the Lord” (Isaiah 13:9; Joel 2:1; Amos 5:18,20; Zephaniah 1:14-18; 2 Thessalonians 2:2; Revelation 6:12-17).
It will be the darkest period of the world’s history, in comparison with which the cruelties of the Assyrians, the fearful sieges of Jerusalem, the tortures of the Inquisition, the campaigns of Napoleon, the bloodshed of two World Wars, and the atrocities perpetrated under the Nazi regime will fade into insignificance. It will be the darkest night before the dawning of the day of millennial glory, for when” the day of the Lord! culminates in the fearful battle of Armageddon and the Great Tribulation has run its course, the Lord will return to set up His glorious kingdom, and this will begin earth’s golden age!
Paul refers to this time of sorrow and judgment in 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11; 2 Thessalonians 1:6-12 and 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12. Notice three truths: –
1. The coming of the Lord FOR His Saints
This is described in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 (as we saw in our last study), but in 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 Paul has more to say.
(a) What will it mean to the unsaved?
It will be a time of surprise and alarm; in verse 2 we are told that the Lord is coming” like a thief in the night”- suddenly and unannounced. See also what verse 3 tells us! We hear much talk today of “peace and safety”, but it is at such a time as this that there will be great sorrow for the unsaved.
There will be absolutely no escape (verse 3) – every Christian will have been removed from the earth; just as in Noah’s day those who were outside the ark remained outside (God had shut the door), so when the Lord comes, those who do not belong to Him will be left behind (Genesis 7:16).
(b) What will the coming of Christ FOR His Saints mean to the Saved?
He may come at any moment (verses 2,4,5). If He comes as a thief, unannounced, it means that we cannot fix the date (Matthew 24:36); but we are prepared when He does come, as verses 4, 5 and 8 remind us.
The believer has an escape (verses 9-10). As we think of the dark days ahead for this world and for the unsaved, we may thank God that a way of escape has been made (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).
In part II of the Dark Days Ahead, we will consider the second truth and see how that invites us to prepare for the second coming of Christ (the rapture of the Church).
Every aspect of the Christian doctrine of the rapture of the Church should point all of us to the Cross of Christ as we thoroughly re-examine ourselves in readiness for his appearing and the inevitable rapture of the Church.