“Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 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. But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. 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. For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing” (1 Thessalonians 5:1-11).
The second-coming of Jesus was important to the church at Thessalonica. Even so, Paul did not provide them a timetable as to when it would all begin to unfold. In fact, he suggests that while they may have been ignorant about some doctrinal matters, they were well-aware that the specific schedule for the end times was revealed on a need-to-know basis and they didn’t need-to-know.
Jesus’ return would be as unexpected as a thief’s arrival but as inevitable as the onset of labor. Jesus is coming – count on it! But don’t concern yourself with when the return will take place. Instead, be ready now and always.
The timing of Jesus’ return might be a well-guarded secret, but that should not keep us from being prepared. We Christians need to steadily live our lives in a manner consistent with our commitment to Jesus: living in light as opposed to darkness, being alert and self-controlled rather than unprepared, undisciplined, and drunk.
Since we are God’s people, our lives ought to be characterized by faith, hope, and love. We need to remember the most basic of doctrines: Jesus died for us. Because we know Jesus died for us we have a new identity as God’s children, “sons of the day.” Jesus died for us so that we would not have to endure the wrath of God. Jesus died for us so that we could live with Him forever. That promise of being with Him in the end is good no matter if you are dead or alive when He comes again.
The church needs to be a people like no other who encourage each other and build up one another. When we see a brother drifting off, losing his alertness, we need to speak a word of encouragement. “Wake up, you belong to the day!” When we see a sister living carelessly without self-control we need to build her up. “Jesus died so we would be prepared for His return!”
The timing of second-coming will be a surprise. But don’t be unprepared.