Read 1 Thessalonians 5:1-3 and Acts 1:6,7. What is the meaning of “the times and the seasons” (NKJV) in these texts?
“The day of the Lord” is a phrase found frequently in Old Testament judgment passages. It describes a decisive, “end-time” intervention by God, with a strong emphasis on the negative consequences of disobedience (Isa. 13:6-9, Jer. 46:10, Ezek. 30:2-12). In our passage for today, Paul combines this earlier concept with the thief analogy, which Jesus introduced (Matt. 24:43, Luke 12:39).
The three-fold combination of the day of the Lord, a thief in the night, and contractions just before birth all illustrate the same point: The second coming of Jesus will be sudden, unexpected, and inescapable for the wicked. The end time is not the time to prepare for the end. The time for preparation is now.
Verse 4 makes it clear, however, that Paul is not scolding the Thessalonians. They already know that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. It is others, those who cry “peace and safety,” who will be surprised by the coming destruction.
In Acts 1:6-7 the disciples of Jesus are asking Him about the timing of the final events of earth’s history. But Jesus does not satisfy their curiosity about these things. The timing of the end is not for them to know. We can see that the phrase “times or seasons” (NKJV) concerns attempts to calculate the timing of the end. Such attempts attract attention, but they are spiritually counterproductive. They cause either disappointment when the calculated time passes or delay in preparation when the anticipated time is too far ahead.
What parallels exist between Luke 21:34-36 and 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11?
According to Luke 21:34, many people-through such things as alcohol and entertainment-try to escape from spiritual responsibility. Others may be concerned about spiritual preparation for the end but are distracted by the cares and anxieties of life. The suddenness of the end, however, means that the time is coming when there will be no escape for the distracted or the complacent. In the verses that follow Christ’s words in Luke 21:34-36, there is escape for those who watch.
How do we live with the sense of urgency, with the awareness of the nearness of Christ’s coming, and yet not get into fanaticism or extremism? How do we strike a right balance? Bring your answer to class.