Monday: Sudden and Unexpected
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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?

Image © Lars Justinen from GoodSalt.com

“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.

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Monday: Sudden and Unexpected — 7 Comments

  1. We need to be Spiritually ready. We need to have our faith tested and to know that God is our rock and salvation. To many people being ready means having a fully stocked freezer and enough guns to keep people away from their bomb shelter. We need to try the Lord now and know that he is God and will take care of us as he sees fit. I am getting older and many of the people that I knew that loved the Lord have fallen asleep and await the 2nd coming. I know that it is near and I know that speaking about his coming and studying helps me get ready. I am grateful for the Sabbath lessons and the people that care enough to write what God has revealed to them as they study. Thank you.

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  2. To me the question of knowing when Jesus is coming has always been a tough question for us to answer. I think the lesson states it about as good as I have ever seen.

    In Mat 24 the question comes up again:

    Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect (Mat 24:42-44 NKJV).

    We need to realize that Jesus was speaking to His disciples giving them warning to be ready. No doubt we will know the season but the exact hour is a mystery. The simple fact is that we can die suddenly at any time and for those that do Christ's second coming has happened. For those that are alive to see his appearing we need to remember that probation will close prior to that event as typified in the story of Noah and the flood. In that story Noah and his family were sealed in the ark seven days before the flood actually started; for them it was their time of trouble. For us probation closes before the seven last plagues then after they fall Christ finally comes (understand the meaning of Rev 15:8 which is just before the plagues for in it intercession has ceased).

    It is also typified in the destruction of Jerusalem along with the second temple in 70 AD. Jesus said that the temple was vacated by God prior to His crucifixion (Mat 23:38-39). That state of things certainly became the case after the stoning of Stephen that took place three and a half years after Christ's ascension. From that point on to the destruction the Jews were unaware that the decision to abandon the Jews as a nation had taken place, everything continued as it was before. They sacrificed in the temple as they had always done - even the disciples continued to worship there not knowing that God had already departed.

    To me one of the most curious texts is something that Jesus said, "When they persecute you in this city, flee to another. For assuredly, I say to you, you will not have gone through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes" (Mat 10:23 NKJV). So as far as I can see probation will close at a time when we feel that there are still people to evangelize. Chances are that we won't recognize the plagues until we are somewhere in them for even Satan will not know when, "Michael shall stand up" (Dan 12:1 NKJV) just before the "time of trouble, Such as never was since there was a nation, Even to that time" (Dan 12:1 NKJV) (see Review and Herald, November 19, 1908 par. 14 for Ellen White's understanding of Satan's lack of knowledge concerning the close of probation).

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  3. As I see the wickedness of the times some days I think that it would be more safe for me to be in the grave. To go to sleep in Jesus and then the next thing that I would see is His appearing.

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  4. Being ready should not be in words, we have to do a lot more that saying, we need to live the life, not just going to church and warm the benches but to remove ourselves from loving the things of world and doing what Christ ask us to do.

    Even while we are getting ready for Christ's return we also have to help others to be ready. let us continue to be sober and vigilant for the coming of our saviour.

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  5. I have always viewed my God that I serve each day of my life as a very fair God. This is because out of a negative there is always a positive to ones life as rightly pointed out in the discussion. Its about maintaining an equilabrium.

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  6. We strike a balance by worrying about others. We shift the focus off of us, and we make sure to attend toour neighbur.
    We give our ife for others. This places us under Christ's influence, and the Holy Spirit guides us to be ready for all times and for the end. All we need to do is make sure our hands are available to the Lord.
    "A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another as I have loved you" john 13:34
    That' all Christ recommanded before He took off!

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  7. The contractions before birth, a very vivid analogue of the final event. As an obstetrician one of my pre-occupations during prenatal consultations is prepare would-be mothers for these involuntary, painfull, traumatising experiences before birth. No woman can avoid them no matter how she tries. Respect the prenat visits; proper diet; knowing your health nos -Blood pressure; Blood sugar; Blood cholesterol; BMI are some of the prepartions neccessary for this inevitable event.
    As Christians this Sabbath-school lesson reminds us that there is a final event. It is going to come like it or not. So make a decision today to prepare for it.

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