Reading for Tuesday, Dec. 18: 1 Thess. 5
So, I’m sure you’re aware of this: the world is supposed to end this week.
Just think of all that time you wasted wrapping Christmas presents this year!
We’re approaching Dec. 21, the date the ancient Mayans predicted the world would come to an end. What’s interesting — given our recent readings of Revelation and now 1 Thessalonians — is that the earliest Christians seemed to have lived with this same sort of conviction. Not a conviction tied to a specific date, mind you, but there is this awareness of the Lord’s imminent return that is found repeatedly in the NT. I think this sort of awareness is good, even healthy. It reminds us of our temporal nature. It reminds us that this present world of evil does not get the last word. It reminds us of One who resides outside the realm of time and space — One who promises to re-enter those spheres one final time in order to bring all things to completion.
We need not dread this day, though it will surely come like a thief in the night (v2). This means that all human prognostications regarding the end will fail. Only God can see the great “countdown clock” in the sky. He alone knows the days that are left to be lived. In the fullness of time, He will draw history to an end in a scene of judgment. Paul encourages the Thessalonians to stay sober-minded (v6-8), alert and ready for this day’s arrival. But he also calls for courage: “For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him,” (v9-10).
Therefore, we live in readiness. Look at the words Paul uses in the closing verses of his letter, words that give us insight into the Christian life:
- Respect (v12)
- Esteem (v13)
- Peace (v13)
- Admonish, encourage, help (v14)
- Rejoice (v16)
- Pray without ceasing (v17)
- Give thanks (v18)
- Hold fast to the good (v21)
- Abstain from evil (v22)
May we likewise commit ourselves to such ideals as we live in readiness for the Great Coming Day.