1Th 5:1-3 “But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.”
In the last few verses of First Thessalonians, chapter 4, Paul has given the church instruction concerning something he would not have them to be ignorant of; the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the fact that all of His God will bring, just as He did Jesus (v. 14). Paul did not want Hebrew customs and pagan idolatries causing undue sorrow, pointing us without fail to the truth that Jesus is our resurrection. Regardless of the passage of time, the lives of all of His are safely held by God. Now Paul calls attention to something that we should not be ignorant of.
Paul says it is not necessary for him to tell the brethren about times and seasons. Certainly, in spite of the fact that men fail to read simple language, the scripture is quite plain about the times and seasons: “And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power (Act 1:7).” Certainly, the resurrection is something the Father has put in His own power. This is true, regardless of what aspect of the resurrection we are discussing.
The church is made up of people who know without doubt that the day of Lord comes as a thief in the night. We can make all kinds of preparation and planning, but we still do not know when the thief will come or if our plans will make any difference. Through the Spirit, Paul was sent to Thessalonica. He found Jews and Greeks worshipping together in the synagogue there which in itself indicates how little they were expecting to encounter the Lord.
They were going about their normal routine of things, complacent in the pattern of their lives. Thessalonica was a prosperous city and there were prosperous people in the synagogue. Certainly, they evidenced no concern about the pattern of their lives being uprooted. They were not looking for anything more than the peace (familiarity) and safety (security) they were enjoying. Does this sound familiar?
Often, these scriptures are viewed only in the light of God’s judgment. The talk of destruction and pain sounds horrific. If you have ever been in a destructive circumstance and knew that you could not escape, then you understand the panic that can come at such a time. The prosperous and secure feeling was gone, and it could not be escaped because, like the pains of a woman’s labor, the source was inside.
Remember now that Paul is talking to the church about the coming of the day of the Lord. They had perfect knowledge of how this day came because that was the way it had come upon them. That day that God sent Paul, Silas, and Timothy to the synagogue to preach to them the death and resurrection of Jesus started out like any other day. These men and women arrived secure in their own strength and confident in their own ways.
Suddenly and without warning, destruction fell on everything they had trusted in. There was a labor inside them they could not escape. All they had trusted in; the synagogue; the priest; temple law; pagan rites; their chief positions in society suddenly meant nothing. These things were destroyed with a destruction they could not escape because the power of it dwelled within them.
Do you remember when the Lord first showed you that you were a sinner? Although it has been many years ago now, I still remember the turmoil as the things I had once trusted in were destroyed suddenly. I remember the sorrow of understanding that my sins had brought this innocent man, Jesus, to come and die for me. I had no way of escape from the pain of that knowledge.
But praise to God, I was not left there. By His mercy, He showed me that I was held in the love of One who was worthy of trust and honor. While my self-satisfaction had to be destroyed, that destruction revealed a peace that passes all understanding. I had no power to move against this sudden coming, nor did I want to move against it. Light had replaced the darkness and I was amazed that He would count me worthy to face persecution for His sake.
May we always rejoice that the day of Lord has come upon us suddenly, that we could not escape, and that we, like Paul was, are able to bear witness of that day in our lives and the lives of others!