First Thessalonians 020 – After the Rapture (part 1)1 Thessalonians 5:1-3 • Dr. Andy Woods • April 2, 2023 • First Thessalonians
First Thessalonians 020 – After the Rapture (part 1)
1 Thessalonians 5:1-3 • Dr. Andy Woods • April 2, 2023
Father, we’re grateful for today and grateful for this morning. Grateful for this particular Sunday that we call Triumphal Sunday, where Your Son rode into Jerusalem presenting His Messianic credentials to the nation, only to have tears in His eyes as He rode in on a donkey because He knew what they would do. He knew prophetically they would reject Him, and how they turned him over to Rome for execution in the events of this week, culminating on Good Friday. So I do pray Lord that You would help us to be circumspect this week, reflective of the fact that a great price was paid for our salvation. And we’re grateful Lord that the story doesn’t stop there. It doesn’t stop with the crucifixion. It also includes the resurrection and then after that, the ascension. And we’re thankful Lord that You took a very dark situation and turned it around for humanity’s betterment. You took lemons and turned them into lemonade as only You could do. We’re so grateful for the salvation that we have in the person of Jesus. I do ask Lord that as the Scriptures are taught this morning, that we could receive completely and totally from You today via the illuminating ministry of the Holy Spirit. And in preparation for that, Father, we’re going to take just a few moments of silence to do business with You if need be. Not to restore salvation, which can never be lost, but rather to restore broken fellowship. We ask that You’ll do this work, and we’ll be careful to give You all the praise and the glory. In Jesus’ name, first of all, taking a few moments of silence.
We’re thankful, Lord, of how You have provided for us in every way. We ask for the Spirit to work today through the teaching of Your Word, through the Lord’s Supper and the fellowship lunch that follows. And as we said earlier, we’ll be careful to give You all the praise and the glory. We ask these things in Jesus’ name and God’s people said Amen.
1 Thessalonians 5:1
So if we can take our Bibles this morning and open them to 1 Thessalonians 5:1. So that basically means we’re no longer in 1 Thessalonians 4. And we’re going to try to look at, Lord willing, this morning 1 Thessalonians 5:1-3 in a teaching, a Sunday school lesson that I’ve entitled “After the Rapture.” In other words, once the Rapture occurs, end of Chapter 4, what is the world going to experience? And you really have a description of that as Paul continues his thoughts on eschatology or the end times in 1 Thessalonians 5:1-3.
Paul, of course, is in a section of the book of 1 Thessalonians where he is no longer defending himself against unfair attacks and criticism that have come against him. Having responded to each of those unfair accusations and allegations, he has restored his reputation and now, beginning in 1 Thessalonians 4:1 with the word “finally”, he is now in a position to correct the Thessalonians.
Largely dealing with issues that he became aware of through different delegations that he sent back to Thessalonica while he was in Corinth to sort of ascertain their spiritual progress. So he’s dealt with immorality, (4:1-8). He’s dealt with laziness (4:9-12), and then beginning in Chapter 4:13 through the end of Chapter 5 he deals with the end times.
They had some concerns, not about the rapture, but they wanted to understand how the rapture affected their deceased loved ones in Christ, and he’s answered that in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.
And now in 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 he begins to deal with something called the Day of the Lord. Something that will hit planet earth subsequent to the rapture. So here in these verses Paul broadens the scope of the discussion from the rapture. So he’s still talking about the end times but he’s going a slightly different direction. He’s no longer speaking of the rapture, but he is speaking of the subsequent era of history that the world will experience following the rapture.
So we have in 1 Thessalonians 5:1-3 a description of this time period that he calls the Day of the Lord, and then beginning in 1 Thessalonians 5:4-11, he applies these truths to the Christians who had not yet experienced the rapture, the Thessalonians.
Description of the Day of the Lord
So what we’re going to focus on today is 1 Thessalonians 5:1-3, this description of the Day of the Lord.
So notice 1 Thessalonians 5:1, he says, “Now as to the times and the epochs, brethren, you have no need of anything to be written to you.”
Now here I’m reading from the New American Standard Bible and it says, “Now as to” – the Greek, is a little expression, it’s typically translated “now concerning,” but it’s a little Greek expression called “peri de” [Περὶ δὲ]. Peri = concerning, de = now; now concerning.
And when Paul uses that little expression, he’s typically switching subjects. So if you look back at 1 Thessalonians 4:9, in Greek it may not show up well in the English translation, but there’s a “peri de” there. He says, “Now as to the love of the brethren,” so he switched subjects.
And if you take a look at 1 Thessalonians 4:13, the rapture passage that we’ve been studying the last few weeks, he says in 4:13 , “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who have fallen asleep.” The two words peri and de are not exactly together here, but “about” is a translation from the word peri in Greek, which means concerning, now concerning.
So, this becomes a really wonderful tool once you understand this, how to outline many books of the Bible that Paul has written. This is how, for example, we would outline the book of 1 Corinthians. In Chapters 1 through 6, he’s dealing with issues reported to him. And then in 1 Corinthians 7-16, he’s dealing with issues asked of him. And so how do you divide up Chapters 7 through 16? You just look for the repetition of that Greek expression “peri de”. Because when he says, “peri de,” now concerning, he’s switching topics. In other words, he’s dealing with another question asked of him by the Corinthians.
So in chapter 1 Corinthians 7:1, he says, “Now concerning,” and now he’s dealing with marital issues. When you go down to 1 Corinthians 7:25, he says, “Now concerning virgins …” so now he’s dealing with the unmarried. In 1 Corinthians 8:1, he says, “Now concerning things sacrificed to idols ….” So he’s dealing with that issue. In 1 Corinthians 12:1, he says, “Now concerning spiritual gifts …”. So he switched topics to deal with the whole subject that they were curious about called spiritual gifts. When you go to 1 Corinthians 16:1, he says, “Now concerning the collection of the saints …”. So he’s dealing now with the offering that he was taking up for the suffering saints in Jerusalem. And then in 1 Corinthians 16:12 he says, “But concerning our brother Apollos …”, he’s got some things that they apparently asked him about Apollos.
So “peri de” is a wonderful little expression that Paul typically uses to transition or change subjects. And so there it is right there in 1 Thessalonians 5:1. He’s switching subjects. There’s a peri de. “Now as to the times and the epics, brethren, …”.
So he’s changing the subject from positive things. The rapture that they didn’t know anything about. They did understand the rapture, but they didn’t understand how it affected their deceased loved ones in Christ. So he’s left that subject behind and now he’s switching to a negative subject. That they did know a lot about, the future tribulation period called the Day of the Lord.
He says, “Now as to the times and the epics, …”. The Greek for times is chronos [χρόνος] where we get the word chronology, and the Greek for epics, some of your Bible translations say seasons is kairos [καιρός]. Chronos and kairos, times and epics, times and seasons. You might remember that the Lord Jesus prior to his ascension used those same expressions.
Because they were asking him are you going to set up the kingdom right now? And Jesus responded to them in Acts 1:7, “He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority;” In other words, don’t worry about the coming of the kingdom. That’s going to be manifested in God the Father’s timetable. You don’t have to be worried about the times and the seasons, the kairos and the chronos concerning the future kingdom.
And here Paul, the apostle, uses those same expressions, kairos, chronos, times and seasons, essentially to refer to what planet Earth is going to face after the rapture that he’s described at the end of Chapter 4 transpires.
And then you’ll notice the expression “brethren.” “Now as to the times and the epochs, brethren, …”, so very clearly, he’s talking to believers. And the reason we believe he’s talking to believers here is he can’t be referring to Jewish brethren because his audience, as we’ve tried to explain, is primarily Gentile in the Thessalonian books. He’s using the word “brethren” the way the Lord Jesus used it in Matthew 12:46-50 when Jesus was told His mother and His brothers are waiting for you. And He says, well, who is my mother? Who are my brothers? Are they not the ones that do the will of my Father in heaven?” So brethren can be used of a spiritual bond, spiritual brotherhood.
And he’s explaining to the brethren, the believers who are receiving this, that they will not be in this time period called the Day of the Lord. More on that in just a moment.
So he says in 1 Thessalonians 5:1, “Now as to the times and the epochs, brethren, you have no need of anything to be written to you.” Meaning that when Paul was there in Thessalonica on his second missionary journey, he had already instructed them about this issue. He had taught them about the rapture. He had taught them about the Day of the Lord that would hit planet Earth subsequent to the rapture.
In other words, largely what you’re getting in the Thessalonian books is you’re getting sort of a review course. He’s already explained to them a lot of these subjects. By the time he writes these books, he’s just sort of re-emphasizing the high points. So we, in the 21st century as we’re trying to read this, are getting into the conversation kind of late in the game. It’s studying the Bible is a lot like listening to someone talk on the phone.
My wife, you know, for example, who’s here, I hear her on her cell phone talking and I’m trying to think, “Who’s she talking to?” Sounds like a great conversation. And then when she gets off the phone, I say, “Who are you talking to?” She’ll say, “So-and-so.” I go, “Yeah, that’s what I figured,” based on the conversation.
That’s kind of like what reading the Bible is like. We’re not privy to the whole conversation. We’re kind of like the person on the couch wondering who your wife talking on the cell phone is speaking to. Paul is speaking to the Thessalonians, and he’s dealing with subjects that already occurred in prior conversations. And so we’re sort of picking up things late. But he was very clear here at the end of 1 Thessalonians 5:1. He says concerning the Day of the Lord, you don’t have any need of anything being written to you. Meaning that he had already talked to them about this subject. So this is a review course, what we’re getting for the very first time.
In the second letter, 2 Thessalonians 2:5, Paul is going to lay out a tremendous eschatology, a series of events in Chapter 2, and we’re reading this and we’re saying, “Wow, this is really neat.” But Paul says to the Thessalonians, “Don’t you remember that when I was with you, I was telling you these things?” In other words, he’s not laying the foundation for the first time. He’s reviewing prior material.
1 Thessalonians 5:2
And you move on into 1 Thessalonians 5:2. It says, “For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night.”
Now notice at the beginning of Verse 2, he says, “For you yourselves know full well.” In other words, he had previously taught and explained the subject matter to them when he planted the church in Thessalonica before he was driven out of Thessalonica by the unbelieving Jews into Corinth. But when he was with them – and he was probably with them about 6 months to a year. A lot of the commentaries say Paul was only with them for 3 weeks. I don’t think that’s right. He was in the synagogue for 3 weeks in Thessalonica until he got kicked out, but then he went and reaped a great harvest amongst the Jews.
And as you read through 1 Thessalonians, he’s assuming that they know an awful lot, and these are brand new converts, so he obviously had to be with them more than just 3 weeks. I think a better understanding of it, he was with them about 6 months to a year, and taught them everything, including the subject of prophecy to the point where they knew about the rapture, they just didn’t know how it was going to affect or impact their deceased loved ones in Christ.
He says here, “You know full well about the day of the Lord.” You know about what is going to hit planet Earth subsequent to the rapture. That’s what he means here when he says, “You know full well.” And I find this to be very, very interesting because as I mentioned before, there’s a mindset amongst Christian leaders that you don’t talk about Bible prophecy to new Christians. I’ve given you some examples of even myself when I became a Christian in 1983 and became interested in Bible prophecy. You know, people were kind of, don’t get too much into that stuff kind of mindset. You need to focus on the important things. And I was thinking to myself, well if it’s in the Bible, it’s important, right?
And even moving on into seminary, I had professors say things like, well the prophecy, eschatology, rapture, the kingdom, those are what they called C-level doctrines. So they actually started to rank doctrines in terms of what they thought were the clearest. So virgin birth, that’s an A-level doctrine. Trinity, A-level doctrine. You move off into the other things, you know, head coverings, for example. Well that’s a B-level doctrine. And I said, well what about the rapture and eschatology, where that fit? They said, well that’s in the C-level doctrine. And I said, well what about the creation days being 24-hour days? Is that a C-level doctrine? And this particular professor says, well that really is a C-minus, you know, kind of thing.
And what all of this is, it’s an anthropocentric, man-made attempt to relegate certain things out of the mind that make us nervous. We just say, well they’re less important. They’re less significant. Now I fully understand that someone doesn’t come to Christ necessarily because of their views on the rapture. That coming to Christ is a birth issue. What we’re dealing with here are growth issues.
And so people play this little game of, well, this doctrine over here is salvific, but these other ones over here are not. And I just want you to understand that that whole mindset is foreign to the way Paul thought. If Paul thought in the 21st century people were going to take his writings and say, “This is important. This is less important. This is even less important.” He would be as shocked as anybody else that they were doing that to his work and the writings of the rest of the Scripture because the Scripture knows no such concept.
The Ecumenical Mindset, The Urge To Merge
One of the things that’s happening in the body of Christ is the movement called ecumenism. I call it the urge to merge. We all got to come together and be one sort of mindset. And if there’s any doctrinal differences between Christians, then that’s actually a sin. In fact, there’s a pastor that said in one of his sermons, I’ve quoted it before, that if you post your doctrinal views on your church website about eschatology, then you actually are in sin because you’re dividing the body of Christ. So let’s just all be one happy family and let’s bring everybody together. Not understanding that through the baptism of the Holy Spirit, when Jesus said, “I pray that they are one,” John 17:20-23, that prayer request was already answered on the day of Pentecost. The Holy Spirit already made everyone that’s born again one in the body of Christ.
So we don’t have to sit around saying, “Okay, we’ve got to merge with the church down the street. We’ve got to merge with this other group over here to fulfill the priority of Christ’s prayer that we would all be one.” That’s a prayer request that was already answered. And by the way, the unity that Jesus spoke of is a unity that revolves around truth. Because prior to Verses 20 through 23 of John 17 is Verse 17. Do you all agree that Verse 17 comes before Verse 20 in John 17? And in John 17:17, he says, ““Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.” Then he moves on to a discussion of unity.
True unity never sacrifices truth. If you’re in some sort of church or group where they’re always talking about, “Let’s tone it down. Let’s tone down certain doctrines for the sake of unity,” you know you’re dealing with the spirit of ecumenism. You’re not dealing with the Holy Spirit because the Holy Spirit never says, “Pursue unity at the expense of truth.”
By the way, if you want a group of people in the Bible that pursued unity at the expense of truth, look at the Tower of Babel. Boy, they had unity. And yet, it was a unity that was so horrific that God had to confuse the existing language at the time so that these builders will not cooperate with each other. But we’re being pushed into this sort of one world religion of the last days of the Antichrist. Evangelicalism, very sadly, is being sucked into that. And that’s why there are so many voices within evangelicalism that keep talking of the ecumenical mindset, the urge to merge.
And so churches like ours that want to emphasize the whole Bible, you know, what a thought, a church that wants to emphasize the whole Bible. You know, we’re kind of on the outs because we don’t really fit with the ecumenical spirit of the day because our views on doctrine would divide us from Mormons, would divide us from Roman Catholics, would divide us from Lordship salvation type preachers, would divide us from people that don’t want to take eschatology literally. And so essentially what we’re told is, well, we’re outside of God’s will. No, you’re outside of God’s will. Because you’re promoting unity at the expense of truth, something that the Holy Spirit will never do.
So Paul the Apostle, when he was with the Thessalonians, taught brand new Christians all these subjects. To the point where when you read through the Thessalonian books, which are two of the earliest letters Paul wrote, he’s reviewing prior material. So this idea that you don’t teach Christians certain doctrines concerning the eschatology is just an unbiblical ministry philosophy. So Paul says here, “You know full well about the day of the Lord.”
1 Thessalonians 5:2, “For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night.”
The Day Of The Lord Is Not The Rapture
Now, what is this business here about the Day of the Lord? The Day of the Lord is not the rapture. The Day of the Lord is the time period that will come upon the earth subsequent to the rapture.
Now why do I think that the Day of the Lord is not the rapture? Because all you have to do is go back into the Bible to the very first time “day” is ever mentioned. And what you’ll see is a day has an evening followed by a morning. In fact, the very first reference to the word “day” in Scripture, is in the book of Genesis 1:5. This is the first time the word day, yom, in Hebrew is ever used.
And it says in Genesis 1:5, “God called the light day, and the darkness He called night, And there was evening [What comes first? The dark, the evening.], and then there was morning, one day.” And this was day one, or the first day. So in a biblical understanding, when you use the word day, there is a darkness time period followed by a light time period.
So obviously the Day of the Lord can’t be the rapture because the rapture is not a dark event. It’s a happy event. Because Paul says, “Comfort one another with these words.”
The Day Of The Lord Begins With The Night – A Thief In The Night / Post-Rapture
So when he uses the expression, “the Day of the Lord,” he’s talking about what planet Earth will experience post-rapture, subsequent to the rapture. The Day of the Lord begins with the night. That’s why it’s analogized here to a thief in the night. If a thief breaks into your house in the middle of the night, is that a happy thing or a bad thing? That’s a bad thing. So thief in the night imagery does not go with the rapture, which is a happy thing.
Now, learning this was very unsettling because our youth group had been subjected to the thief in the night series. Anybody ever watch that? I think there’s been other prophecy movies subsequent to that that have kind of raised the budget a little bit. It was sort of a low budget type thing. But youth groups all over America were shown this, and what they kept saying is the rapture is a thief in the night. Well, how could the rapture be a thief in the night when a thief in the night is a bad thing and the rapture is a good thing or a happy thing?
The thief in the night imagery is what hits planet Earth post-rapture. After the rapture, what can the world expect to happen? That’s what Paul is reviewing here. There will be a tribulation period lasting seven years, Daniel 9:27. That’s the evening or the night. And it will be followed by the kingdom ultimately leading into the eternal state. That’s the daylight section. That’s what the Day of the Lord is here as Paul mentions it.
Now sometimes the Day of the Lord can have different meanings in other contexts. For example, in the book of Amos 5:18, the coming invasion of the northern kingdom is analogized to the Day of the Lord. Over in 2 Peter 3:10-11, where this earth post thousand-year kingdom is going to be destroyed by fire and replaced with a new heavens and new earth. The destruction of the earth in that brief time period is called the Day of the Lord. Peter describing that event says, “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. [If you’re a global warming advocate, there’s where to put it.] Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness,”
Day Of The Lord It Is Not A Technical Expression
So the Day of the Lord doesn’t always mean the same thing every time it’s used. In other words, it is not what we would call a technical expression. A technical expression is an expression that always means the same thing every time it’s used. So when you see the Day of the Lord, you have to examine the context to pour the right meaning into the concept.
And here, when Paul mentions the Day of the Lord, he’s talking about what is coming to planet Earth after the rapture. There will be a time of evening or darkness, the seven-year tribulation period, followed by a time of light or morning, which will be the millennial kingdom manifesting on planet Earth.
And you’ll notice here that he calls that time period just like a thief in the night. If you want to know what it’s going to be like, it’s going to be just like the days of Noah. That’s your parallel. When a thief breaks into your house in the middle of the night, he doesn’t text you in advance and say, “I’m showing up at 2.33 a.m.” kind of thing, because it’s a surprise. It’s a bad surprise, but it’s a surprise, nonetheless.
Just Like The Days Of Noah
That is what is going to hit planet Earth once the Day of the Lord starts. The Earth will be completely and totally taken off guard by this, even though they’ve been warned. And this has actually happened before, just prior to the flood. By way of prophetic parallel, Jesus says, ““But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. “For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah.” (Matt 24:36-37)
Now keep in mind that Noah was a preacher in that time period, 2 Peter 2:5. There was 120 year, which is a long time, grace period. But Noah, his message just fell on deaf ears. And so when the flood hit, everybody was shocked that it was happening. Matt 24:38-39, “For as in those days before the flood, they were eating and drinking and marrying and being given in marriage, until the day [right up to the exact day] that Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand [in other words, this is a surprise, this is thief in the night] until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be.” In other words, this has happened before.
The rapture occurs, the world comes up with some sort of bizarre explanation as to where everybody went. It’ll probably have something to do with the, well do I even say this? All the Maga people just disappeared. All the conservatives disappeared. All the people, you know, always talking about the Bible, disappeared. Now some churches, I mean, they’ll have a full house the day after the rapture, I’m convinced.
So all the people that were sort of holding up planetary progress, nature had a way of sort of getting rid of them. So rather than it being a blessing, they’ll turn it into a negative. All the politically incorrect people are gone. And the Antichrist will most likely have some kind of really glib explanation for this.
And the world will just go right back to normal as usual, even though they’ve been fully warned about what’s going to happen subsequent to the rapture. And pow, here comes the Day of the Lord. Here comes the seven-year tribulation period. And it takes them completely and totally off guard, just like the flood did in the days of Noah.
So this expression, “thief in the night,” is the surprise of the unsaved when the Day of the Lord hits. It’s not talking about the rapture at all. Because a thief is a negative thing, the rapture is a positive thing. That’s why Jesus prefaced His comments on the rapture by saying, “Do not let your heart be troubled.” This is why Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 4:18 concerning the rapture, “Therefore comfort one another with these words.” This is why Titus 2:13, concerning the rapture, calls it a blessed hope. None of those descriptors fit thief in the night imagery.
Thief in the night imagery is the unsaved person and the unsaved mind that has rejected God, rejected a knowledge of God, rejected a knowledge of the Scripture. The moment judgment hits, they’re just completely shocked it’s happened.
In fact, over in Revelation 6:16-17, the last couple of verses in the chapter, it’s the pagans kind of going through the mental process about, you know what, this is the wrath of God. And they don’t figure it out until the end of Revelation 6, but grammatically, as I’ve tried to show in other teachings, that statement backs up to the beginning of the chapter.
The wrath of God has started in Revelation 6:1. The pagans don’t figure it out until the end of Chapter 6. But in the process of figuring it out, they’re saying to themselves, “for the great day of the wrath has come, …” (Rev 6:17). And actually, it started with the first seal judgment.
1 Thessalonians 5:3 – “While they are saying, “Peace and safety!”
Now, if you look at 1 Thessalonians 5:3, you’ll see something very interesting there. While they are saying, “Peace and homeland security,” oh, I’m sorry, sorry. “While they are saying, “Peace and safety!” then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape.”
Look at the very first part of Verse 3. “While they,” you see that? That’s a big deal. “While they are saying peace and safety”. He doesn’t say, while we are saying peace and safety. Which means we can’t be in this time period because a “we” is not a “they.” Amen?
Does Paul know how to say “we”? Sure does. Remember what he said in 1 Thessalonians 4:15 in the prior chapter? “For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep.” Paul said “we”, the believers, are going to participate in the rapture.
1 Corinthians 15:51, also a rapture passage. This is a good time to review it because we’re coming up on Resurrection Sunday. And the reason Paul includes it here is because the rapture is the time period that we as believers receive our resurrected bodies. “Behold, I tell you a mystery; we [1st person plural] will not all sleep, but we [1st person plural] will all be changed,”. I was just going to entitle this lesson, “We.”
But you’ll notice that he doesn’t say “we” here. He says “they.” 1 Thessalonians 5:3. He’s not talking about the rapture. He’s talking about the Day of the Lord subsequent to the rapture. And he says “they.” In other words, he just switched from first person to third person.
So one of the great questions of a person’s life is, “Are you a ‘we’ or are you a ‘they’?” As for me and my house, we’re a “we.” Because we’re believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. But if you haven’t trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ, you’re a “they.” And this is what you will experience after the rapture has already taken place.
It’s the unsaved world left behind at the rapture. Completely and totally swept off guard, just like in the days of Noah concerning the flood.
“While they are saying “peace and safety, …”. Who is Jesus Christ? Isaiah 9:6-7, He’s the Prince of Peace. You will not have peace in your life. You won’t have peace internally. You won’t have peace with God until you trust Him as your Savior, and the Holy Spirit comes into you. That’s why Jesus in the Upper Room says, ““Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” (John 14:27) The peace of God that the book of Philippians says transcends all understanding. (Philippians 4:7)
If a person rejects that, they’ve got a major hole in their heart that they’re trying to fix. And what they have a tendency to do is they have a tendency to fill that with an artificial substitute. We’ve got to get the right leader in power. We’ve got to get the economy under control. We’ve got to get inflation down. We’ve got to get our guy into the White House. Because if we don’t have all this stuff, we can’t have peace.
Not understanding that Jesus is the Prince of Peace. If you want peace in your life, peace with God and inner tranquility, which has nothing to do with the direction of the world, I hope your peace doesn’t come from the direction of the world. Because you’re going to be one miserable person. You have to have something more than that. You have to have Jesus, the Prince of Peace, the peace of God which transcends all understanding.
But if you reject that, you’re going to try to fit anything that fits the bill by way of an artificial substitute. That’s why this world is a sitting duck for the Antichrist. Because the world is Christ-rejecting. And they’re just looking for anybody or anyone to come on the scene and fix the problems of this world.
Jesus talked about that. In John 5:43, He said, ““I have come in My Father’s name, and you do not receive Me; if another [Antichrist] comes in his own name, you will receive him.”
In other words, Israel, you’re a sitting duck for the Antichrist because you’re rejecting Me, the Prince of Peace and so you’ll settle for an artificial substitute, a person that comes along and gives you a phony peace, a peace that can’t last.
And this is why the world is clamoring for peace and safety at this particular time. Now, the Antichrist will show up and he will give people what they want for a season. See, that’s the difference because it’s going to lead to destruction, as we’re going to see. But for a season, they’re going to bask in this peace that the Antichrist gives.
In fact, Daniel 9:27 says, ““And he [Antichrist] will make a firm covenant with the many [Israel] for one week …”. He will give them territorial peace, political peace from their enemies, and of course, 42 months into the whole thing, he’s going to betray them by desecrating the Jewish temple. But they’ll have peace for a very short period of time.
This is why the seal judgments, by the way, there’s the covenant that he’ll make with Israel guaranteeing her peace for a season, Daniel 9:27 which launches the final seven years of the tribulation period. This is all post-Rapture.
And there’s going to be a first seal judgment and a second seal judgment. The first seal judgment is the coming of the Antichrist, the rider on the white horse. Boy, that sounds familiar. Kind of like Jesus in Chapter 19, the rider on the white horse. Except this rider on the white horse, who’s a man of peace, is giving an artificial substitute. Revelation 6:1-2 says, “Then I saw when the Lamb broke one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures saying as with a voice of thunder, “Come.” I looked, and behold, a white horse, [this is not Jesus, this is the artificial substitute, the Antichrist] and he who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer.”
Middle East problem fixed. Jews clamoring to rebuild their temple, not offending the Muslims in the process fixed. Global security, economic security fixed. Inflation fixed.
Wow, who wouldn’t go for that? Well, the people that go for it are people that don’t know Jesus Christ. Because anybody that knows Jesus Christ can see the writing on the wall that this is going to be very short-lived, as enjoyable as it may be for the moment. Because seal judgment number one is followed by seal judgment number two. And that’s where global war breaks out.
I guess the peace didn’t last too long. Revelation 6:3-4 says, “When He broke the second seal, I heard the second living creature saying, “Come.” And another, a red horse, went out; and to him who sat on it, it was granted to take peace from the earth, [you see that] and that men would slay one another; and a great sword was given to him.”
So first we have peace established on the earth, but it is not lasting, because in the second seal judgment, peace is taken from the earth. But I’m trying to give you an explanation as to why they’re saying, “peace and safety.” In other words, this is what the world will fall for. This is what the human heart always falls for when it rejects Jesus Christ, the true Prince of Peace. They will settle for the artificial substitute.
And that’s why, we were just talking about this earlier, when the Gog-Magog invasion happens, I believe with the second seal judgment, the nation of Israel is living in temporary peace. Ezekiel 38:8 says, ““After many days you will be summoned; in the latter years you will come into the land that is restored from the sword, …”. I mean how happy are the Jews going to be here. We have gone the sword our whole lives, and now someone has given us peace. “… whose inhabitants have been gathered from many nations to the mountains of Israel which had been a continual waste; but its people were brought out from the nations, and they are living securely, all of them.”
Notice the Hebrew betah (bě ṭǎḥ). “Living in security.” Ezekiel 38:11, “and you will say, ‘I will go up against the land of unwalled villages. I will go against those who are at rest, [different word saqat (šā·qǎṭ)] that live securely [betah (bě ṭǎḥ)], all of them living without walls and having no bars or gates,”
They have betah, military security because their existence has just been guaranteed by the Antichrist. I mean, he wouldn’t lie to you, would he? Well, he’s lying to them when he enters the treaty with them. They just don’t figure it out until halfway through when he desecrates their temple. That he, by the way, has let him rebuild. And then there’s a second Hebrew word there, saqat, which means to be living in tranquility. No turmoil in Israel. People are telling me that this is happening now. Do they not watch the news? Israel is in total tranquility. Not tranquility, but lack of tranquility. Israel is living in turmoil.
So these prophecies aren’t happening now. These are prophecies that will come into existence post-rapture. Beginning of the tribulation period when the Antichrist enters a peace treaty with Israel, guaranteeing her security, that’s when Israel experiences betah and saqat, but it’s short-lived. And they fall for this because they rejected the true Prince of Peace.
It is a dangerous thing to reject Jesus Christ. Because when the human mind or the human heart rejects a true knowledge of Jesus, it becomes open to all kinds of deception. That’s what’s happening here.
You continue on, 1 Thessalonians 5:3, “While they are saying, “Peace and safety!” then destruction will come upon them …”. Seal judgment number one is followed by seal judgment number two, which is all out war. Even though Israel has betah and saqat, here comes Iran, Russia, Turkey, and others saying now is the time to invade Israel.
So obviously the peace that the Antichrist brought is not lasting. How different the peace of Jesus, Who is called the Prince of Peace. He will permanently bring to an end a state of conflict between you and God. And He will put inside of you His Spirit, which gives you, in the midst of the worst type of events, the peace of God that transcends all understanding. And by the way, when He sets up His Kingdom, how long is it going to last? Forever. A thousand years and after that it will merge into the eternal state and will last forever.
How different the kingdom of the Antichrist is that brings peace to the world for a moment. Peace to the world for just an instant. It’s a major bait and switch that’s gone on here with the inhabitants of the earth. They thought they were getting one thing; they end up getting something else. They thought they were getting peace and safety. No, you didn’t get peace and safety. You got destruction.
And when you look at 1 Thessalonians 5:3, it says the destruction will come suddenly. Now there are people running around saying today that the first half of the tribulation period is not going to be that bad. So we’re going to be here for the first half of it.
I’m sorry folks, but that’s not what the Bible says. The Bible says that when the destruction happens, it will come suddenly, and it will be destructive in nature. The first sealed judgment is actually a judgment as well. Although there’s not yet any physical harm. Because what did Jesus say in Matthew 10:28? ““Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”
Following the Antichrist brings a moment of peace, but you’re actually in so doing consigning yourself to the lake of fire, particularly if you take the mark of the beast. I’m not denying that there will be salvations in this time period, there will be many, but what you have to understand is when God allows the Antichrist to come forward, He’s actually judging the world. He is solidifying them in some respects in their Christ-rejecting state, which is actually a worse judgment when you think about it, because it has eternal ramifications.
And so the destruction does not happen later in the tribulation period, it happens immediately, beginning with the Antichrist. Well, gee, Paul, I would love an illustration where you can illustrate this for me. Do you have one? Paul says, “I’m so glad you asked.”
“… then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child …” (1 Thessalonians 5:3) Notice the word “like.” It’s a simile, it’s an analogy that he’s using. Once a woman goes into labor, it’s irreversible. When you get that phone call from your wife, or you’re sitting there in the living room with your wife, she says it’s time to go to the hospital, you don’t say, “Well, I’m going to just take a fast run to Starbucks, and I’ll be right back.” Because that baby’s coming. It’s an irreversible process once it starts.
Once this process called the Day of the Lord starts, you can’t shut it down. You can’t reverse it. There’s no pause button. There certainly is no rewind button. By the way,
Jesus Christ Himself describing this time period, used the same analogy. It’s in Matthew 24:8. Now here He’s describing the Jews in the tribulation period, and He’s describing the various birth pangs or pains, Matthew 24, which I believe lined up with the seal judgment, as you can see from this chart. But early on in the process, Jesus says all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs. It is an irreversible process once it begins.
While they are saying, “While they are saying, “Peace and safety!” then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape.” Are you a “we” or are you a “they?”
Paul when he was describing the rapture, 1 Thessalonians 4:15 says, “we.” 1 Corinthians 15:51, 51 Paul describing the rapture says, “we” twice, first person plural. Now there’s a completely different shift and he talks about “they.”
People that think the church is in this time period, how do they explain this? Well typically what people do is they just ignore it. It goes against their narrative. It goes against their theological system. They really don’t want to believe that they bought into a system that has no Biblical support.
So they would say something like, “Well, you know, that’s just stylistic,” or something. No, this is not stylistic. When Paul is talking about the end of the age of the church, he says “we.” When he talks about what follows the rapture, he says “they.” And he says it twice. Switch first person to third person.
And then how does it end here? They will not escape. Now when you study that expression, “they will not escape,” in Greek, there’s a double negative there. Two negatives right next door to each other. If I got the pronunciation right, it’s like “ou” and then “me” (καὶ οὐ μὴ ἐκφύγωσιν). It’s like Paul saying “μὴ γένοιτο” (me genoito), if I’m pronouncing that right in Romans, may it never be. In other words, it’s impossible.
A double negation is like saying an impossibility. It is the strongest negation you can possibly have in the Greek language. It’s like when your five-year-old says “Can I have the keys to the car?” You don’t just say “no.” You say “no, no, no, no, no, no.” That will never happen. And if you’re reading in the Spanish version, it would say “no way, Jose.” No way. No way it could happen.
When it says, “they will not escape,” the world is not going to get out of this time period. It’s simply overtaken them. It’s overtaken them like a woman in labor, a process that’s irreversible. Once the process starts, the process can’t be undone. So this is what the world has in store for them subsequent to or after the rapture.
Are people going to get saved in this time period? Yes, there will be many salvations, Revelation 7:8. But they will be saved in and through. We in the church age are kept out of it completely. I don’t preach or teach this doctrine that many of my colleagues and teachers of Bible prophecy teach that if you don’t trust Jesus now, you’re going to go into the tribulation period, and you’ll have no hope of receiving Him as Savior. I don’t see that doctrine in Scripture. I know they try to yank a couple of verses out of 2 Thessalonians 2:11-12, and we’ll deal with those if and when we get over there because the rapture might happen before we finish the Thessalonian letters.
But the doctrine that you better trust Christ now or you’re going to go into the tribulation period and you’re never going to be able to trust Him there’s no real Biblical support for that other than out of context verses. So it is possible for somebody to, listening to me, to reject the Gospel and yet go into the tribulation period and get saved. That’s possible. But as for me and my house, I’m a path of least resistance type. Why would I do something that dumb? When I can trust Christ now and escape this time period in its totality. Isn’t that a little smarter? And a little wiser?
And by the way, if you’re a Christ rejecter now, why would you think that you’re going to be some great spiritual superhero in the seven-year tribulation? Doesn’t the Bible say if you’re unfaithful with the little thing, you can’t be trusted with the bigger thing? So this presumption that people have that they’re going to be some kind of cosmic saint in the tribulation period, and they’re Christ rejecters now, I don’t necessarily think that will always work out in most cases.
Most people in the tribulation period will be converted under the threat of death. In other words, if you do convert, you die. And that’s why it speaks of mass martyrdoms in this time period. I mean, if you can’t trust Christ now sitting in an air-conditioned sanctuary, or people watching online sitting in the comfort of their own office or living room, if you can’t trust Christ now, why would you think that all of a sudden you’re going to trust Him later? Maybe you will. I’m not saying it’s an impossibility, but it’s going to be a lot, a lot harder.
Well gee, how does this apply to daily life? I’m glad you asked, because he takes this concept of the Day of the Lord, applies it to the Thessalonian church in 1 Thessalonians 5:4-11, which Lord willing we’ll take a look at next week. So we’re actually going to get out on time today. Now, don’t get used to that.
Let’s pray. Father, we’re grateful for Your Word, grateful for Your truth, grateful for the reality that it presents to us about the end. Help us to walk wisely and circumspectly with these truths in these last days. Give us opportunities this week, Lord, to share these with people that we know that are lost. We’ll be careful to give You all the praise and the glory. We ask these things in Jesus’ name and God’s people said amen.
 All Scripture quotations are from New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update. 1995. La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, unless otherwise noted.