“Ready or Not, Here I Come! – 1 Thessalonians 5: 1-13

As a child did you love to play hide and seek?   Over the Christmas holidays I enjoyed watching my nieces and nephew play and was reminded of this timeless game that I loved as a kid.  I observed and remembered the one who is “it” would close their eyes and count to 50 or 100 so that all the others could hide. I got tickled as I noticed the one counting cheat a little bit as he would peep around and then you could hear him count, “One, two, three, and so on.” Then you would hear him scream out, “Ready or not here I come!”

Little did I realize as a child how much this fun game paralleled the second coming of Jesus Christ! Paul reminds the church of Thessalonica and us today about the importance of being ready.

  1. Christ Will Return Suddenly

1 Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you,
2 for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.

The Second Coming of Jesus Christ is one of the most repeated teachings in all of Scripture

Paul was well aware of this and he explained his readers should be perfectly aware that Jesus was coming again. As a matter of fact, he told them that he shouldn’t even have to tell them again. It should be obvious. It is kind of like the story of a tourist driving through West Texas who stopped at a gas station and observed a piece of rope dangling from a sign labeled “Weather Forecaster.” “How can you possibly tell the weather with a piece of rope?” the tourist wanted to know. “It’s simple,” was the droll answer. “When the rope swings back and forth, it’s windy, when it drips, it’s raining, when it’s white, it’s snowing and when it’s gone… tornado!”

There are simply some things that should be obvious without even asking. The imminent return of Jesus Christ is one of those things.

The question is not “if Jesus will return?” but “when will he return?” Paul answered this question by basically saying, “No one knows.” He explained this by describing the time of Jesus return as a thief in the night. Just as a thief plans his entry at an uncertain time when least expected, so will be the coming of the Son of God. Jesus Himself said in (Matt. 24:35) “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.” And later He said in (Matt 24:44) Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not expect Him.”

Certain Judgement upon those not Ready

3 While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.

Paul refers to the Second Coming of Christ as the “Day of the Lord.” Throughout scripture the “Day of the Lord” was the designation of that latter time in history when God would pour out His wrath on the ungodly. When the Lord Jesus Christ comes to rapture His people, then soon after our Lord will begin to pour out His judgements upon then earth in a time which we refer to as the Great Tribulation.

The tragedy of this day is that so many will be unprepared. And not only will they be unprepared they will actually be deceived and actively deceiving others as they cry out “Peace and safety” while thinking there is no danger at all when in fact destruction is immediately upon them.

  1. Christ will Return, be Ready.

 So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled.  7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night.

As a soldier is commanded to “stay alert” on his post, so must we as Christians. Paul instructs us to “watch” (gregario) which means to stay awake or be vigilant. His command was in the present tense which means this must be a continual practice of the Christian. It’s a matter of attitude. A Roman soldier would be put to death for falling asleep on his watch. The outcome could be just as fatal for the person not constantly looking for the return of Christ.

We must live daily with the Discipline of Self-Control

Paul is warning us that we must not allow anything within our lives that will influence our moral alertness. Just as alcoholic beverages will greatly influence and inhibit a person’s abilities to focus and make important decisions, sin will affect one’s ability to make moral decisions. A person does not become drunk with just one drink, but one drink leads to two and then to three. Slowly the drinker becomes drunk without even noticing it and all of his senses become blurred making him a danger to himself and also to others. In the same way, if we do not control the sin in our lives, we will soon become so overcome by its effects that we are oblivious to spiritual matters and therefore unaware of and unconcerned about the imminent return of Christ. As a drunkard who is passed out and oblivious to the world. so is the uncontrolled sinner spiritually passed out.

We must live daily with the Protection of God’s Armor

8 But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet

I heard a pastor share about his dad who was in the Navy during WWII and served on a destroyer ship in the South Pacific. While on the ship one of their strict commands was to always be combat ready which meant even when you took a shower you must keep your gear nearby. Yet, there would be sometimes weeks they would not see another ship or plane and during these times they would become a little loose in their readiness. Then one morning his dad and some of his buddies where showering when the air-raid siren went off and were all called to immediately man their stations. The only problem was they had no clothes. As his dad ran out of the shower a helmet was slapped on his head and he had to run immediately to his post as an artillery loader with nothing but a helmet on.  He said those spent shells were hot on his feet and legs as he danced around them. Can you imagine the looks on the enemy pilot’s faces when they looked on the ship with naked men manning the guns?” He found out quickly that not being ready had some pretty tough consequences.

9 For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. 10 He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. 11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 (NIV)

There is peace knowing that we are ready for the return of Christ. We can look for Christ’s coming with excitement and expectancy, instead of fear and dread.

In the 1980’s when I was a young believer still in high school, I would listen to the Christian Radio station and there was a song by Larry Norman that I would like to leave us with.  Here are the lyrics:

Life was filled with guns and war
And everyone got trampled on the floor
I wish we’d all been ready

Children died the days grew cold
A piece of bread could buy a bag of gold
I wish we’d all been ready

There’s no time to change your mind
The Son has come and you’ve been left behind

A man and wife asleep in bed
She hears a noise and turns her head, He’s gone
I wish we’d all been ready

Two men walking up a hill
One disappears and one’s left standing still
I wish we’d all been ready

There’s no time to change your mind
The Son has come and you’ve been left behind

Are you ready?



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About dkoop

Lead Pastor of Upwards Church: Leander & Jarrell, TX
This entry was posted in Tomorrowland- 1 & 2 Thessalonians and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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