Now, brothers and sisters, 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 and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all children of the light and children 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 awake and sober. 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 sober, 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.
—Thessalonians 5:1-11 (TNIV)
Yesterday we saw Paul encouraging Christians by reminding them of their hope that is in Christ. Today, he reminds us that even though we eagerly look forward to our Lord’s return, none of us know when that will be. I have always found it curious that those who accuse Paul of being mistaken about when Jesus will return, fail to come to grips with this passage in which he states clearly that none of us know the date or time.
What we must pick up from today’s passage is that we are to live as people who live in the light. Christ’s return will be swift and sudden and there will be no chance to turn back from it. Consequently, we must live with eager expectation and hope. As he did in his letters to the Romans and Ephesians, Paul again urges us to put on protective clothing, which implies that we are at war with the forces of evil and darkness. Yet as Paul reminds us, albeit implicitly, we are not in this fight alone nor do we live life alone. We have the Lord on our side to help us persevere. Because of this, and because of his cross, we are not to fear Jesus’ return because we know we have been saved by his blood and are sustained by his living presence in us. Instead, we are to look forward to it because then our redemption will be completed.
This is part of our Christian hope, a hope that is based on God’s great love and mercy for us. Do not neglect your hope. Read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest it. Do this first and foremost by making time each day to read God’s word to you contained in Scripture. You will find great power to live as God calls you to live and in doing so, you will find great hope and joy.