I don’t know who came up with the slogan-, “Sorry. Not sorry.” I know it from Reese’s® peanut butter and chocolate candy commercials, and I hate them for that! Well, not them. Me. ’Cause when I see their commercial, I desperately need to buy some! Now, today, I would like us to consider, “Surprised? Not surprised!”
In 1st Thessalonians 5, we find Paul concluding his teaching about the “End Times.” As we should know, God has not and will not reveal the day or hour of Jesus Christ’s return. Many well-meaning men and women have had their ministries destroyed by predicting that date, but we’re not among them. We know better. However, I think we often overlook God’s promise about this glorious event to avoid being tarnished by false predictions.
In apostle Paul’s letter, he reminds the church’s people in Thessalonica that they “know quite well that the day of the Lord’s return will come unexpectedly, like a thief in the night1.” Then Paul writes, “When people are saying, ‘Everything is peaceful and secure,’ then disaster will fall on them2” and that there will be no escape.
Those of us who grew up in the Church know these things. What we usually say is that we can’t know the day but can know the season. By this, we mean that we can perceive the epoch of Christ’s return through the Holy Spirit and observation. Jesus said:
“People will be terrified at what they see coming upon the earth, for the powers in the heavens will be shaken. Then everyone will see the Son of Man coming on a cloud with power and great glory. So when all these things begin to happen, stand and look up, for your salvation is near!”Luke 21:26–28
So, here is something Paul wrote to the church in Thessalonica that I rarely hear discussed. He wrote that we “won’t be surprised when the day of the Lord comes like a thief3.” He goes on to write, “be on your guard4.”
The world will be surprised and terrified, but not us. And, just as a soldier stands guard, attentive and watching, we too must be like guards. We are “children of the light5.” God uses us like a guard’s flashlight (torch) that shines into the darkness of this world. We are beacons to those that would come to the Light, and God’s light, through us, exposes and convicts those that choose darkness to hide their wickedness.
Jesus will return. We are children of the Light. When our Lord returns, we won’t be surprised if we remain diligent. I think that’s good news.