Night and day
…for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.
1 Thessalonians 5:2 (NIV)
Having grandchildren in both America and Canada I am not unfamiliar with transatlantic air travel and the dreaded jet lag, that phenomenon that for a week or so after arriving home turns night into day and vice versa.
Thankfully in Paul’s time, aeroplanes had yet to be invented, so when he used the terms night and day in his letter to the Thessalonians, the meaning was crystal clear. Reminding them of the coming Day of the Lord, a concept they were obviously familiar with, he says it will come, ‘like a thief in the night’. Burglars generally work at night for two reasons: it is dark, so they can’t be seen, and most people (unless jet-lagged) are generally fast asleep at that time. As a result, the thieves take their victims by surprise.
But the purpose of 1 Thessalonians 5 was not to scare the Christians Paul was writing to, rather to reassure them: ‘But friends, you’re not in the dark, so how could you be taken off guard by any of this? You’re sons of Light, daughters of Day.’ (vv. 4-5 MSG).
Paul refers to two different ways of looking at the Day of the Lord and the second coming of Jesus Christ. To the people of the night, it spells judgement. But to the children of the light, it means salvation and the ushering in of the age to come. Therefore, he continues, act accordingly: ‘…be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet.’ (v.8 NIV).
He finishes with these wonderful comforting words: ‘For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.’ (v. 9).
As believers, as children of the light, let us take these words of Paul’s and do with them exactly as he advises. Use them to ‘…encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.’ (v.11).
Heavenly Father, thank you for sending the light of the world to illuminate the darkness, the ‘true light that gives light to everyone’, who brought with him salvation and the power to make us children of the day. We pray for his kingdom to come soon. In Jesus’s name, Amen.
Study by Peter Mill
About the writer:
Peter Mill is a minister in Grace Communion International and Co-Regional Pastor for Scotland, Ireland, and Northern England.
GCI, Linlithgow. For details email the local congregational contact below.
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