The Church and the Day of the Lord

file-saint_paul_writing_his_epistles_by_valentin_de_boulogneI am preparing to teach the next lesson in the study of II Thessalonians and we are going to examine the relationship of the church to the Day of the Lord. This is teaching number 4 in the series.

We have seen that it is very important for the followers of Jesus Christ to remain excellent students of the Scriptures so that we will not have our faith shaken by false teachings or by false teachers. Paul is writing to the Thessalonians to encourage them and to get them back on track so that they can remain faithful to the Lord, serving Him by preaching the Gospel in the midst of persecution and suffering. One of the areas in which the Thessalonians had been led astray was in the area of the Day of the Lord. There are many people today who are confused when it comes to the rapture, the Day of the Lord, and the Coming of the Lord. These are three distinct events yet often lead to great confusion for people who attend church or read the Bible. We fully covered the idea of the rapture in the last lesson so I will not get into explaining it in this lesson.

I. The Day of the Lord

The Day of the Lord will begin when the man of lawlessness reveals himself for who he really is. Daniel and Jesus both call this the Abomination of Desolation. This man will reveal himself in the temple, stop the sacrifice, and declare himself to be God. He will immediately begin to attack the Jewish people and the Great Persecution/Day of the Lord will begin. This is a time of wrath and punishment. Paul writes about it in I Thessalonians 5.

2 For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night.
3 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.

The event known as the Day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night for some people because they do not know the signs of the time. People will be proclaiming peace and safety because of the geopolitical situation. The world will unify as one and there will be a time of temporary peace. The momentary safety will just be an illusion. After the man of lawlessness reveals himself, terrible days will begin immediately. The prophet Joel also gives us a bit of a description of this time frame. But, before we get into what Joel has to say, I want to point out that this time of terrible suffering will last for 3 and a half years. It would last longer but Jesus returns and puts an end to the suffering. We see this in II Thessalonians 2:

8 Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming;

We know that it is 3 and a half years because Daniel tells us that the man of lawlessness reveals himself 3 and a half years after making a 7 year covenant with the Jews. He works openly for 3 and a half years and his reign is ended by Jesus Christ when He returns for the 2nd Coming. This means that the Day of the Lord is a period of time and not just one literal day.

Now, let’s turn to Joel 2.

1 Blow a trumpet in Zion, And sound an alarm on My holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, For the day of the LORD is coming; Surely it is near,
2 A day of darkness and gloom, A day of clouds and thick darkness. As the dawn is spread over the mountains, So there is a great and mighty people; There has never been anything like it, Nor will there be again after it To the years of many generations.

This is the prophet Joel writing to the Jewish people. The Day of the Lord is a time of suffering for the Jewish people like no other time in history. According to Joel, the Day of the Lord will drive the Jewish people remaining on the earth to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

32 “And it will come about that whoever calls on the name of the LORD Will be delivered; For on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem There will be those who escape, As the LORD has said, Even among the survivors whom the LORD calls. (Joel 2)

Joel let’s us know in chapter 3 that this is a period of time and not just one day.

1 “For behold, in those days and at that time, When I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem,

What about the church, where will the church be during the Day of the Lord? Let’s find out.

II. The church

There are several different views that theologians have when it comes to the church and the Day of the Lord. We have seen from our previous texts and study that the Day of the Lord is for the Jewish people. Where is the church? Let’s see if we can discover this for ourselves from the Scriptures so that we are not influenced by the different views.

First of all, if you die before the Day of the Lord, you will not go through it. Paul teaches us in Philippians that once a follower of Christ dies:

23 But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better; (Philippians 1)

If a follower of Christ dies, immediately his spirit goes to be with Christ. If you are with Christ in heaven, you cannot go through the Day of the Lord. This idea is also presented to us by Paul in II Corinthians 5:

6 Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord –
7 for we walk by faith, not by sight –
8 we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.

What about the followers of Christ who are still alive? Let’s take a look at Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians.

9 For they themselves report about us what kind of a reception we had with you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God,
10 and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come. (I Thessalonians 1)

According to Paul, Jesus is going to rescue us from the wrath to come. According to Jesus, Daniel, and Joel, the wrath to come is going to be the Day of the Lord or, what is also known as the Great Tribulation. If we are going to be rescued from the wrath to come, we have to be removed from the earth. That will take place when the Lord Jesus raptures His church from the earth. Paul describes this event in I Thessalonians 4:

13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope.
14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus.
15 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.
16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.
17 Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.

Once we meet the Lord in the air, we will always be with Him, even when He returns to the earth for the Second Coming. So, the church will not have to endure the Day of the Lord because the church will be with the Lord in heaven until the end of the Day of the Lord. If you are not a follower of Jesus Christ, there is a great chance that you will have to go through the Day of the Lord and most will not survive it.

III. Practical advice

Knowing that if we are followers of Christ,  we will not have to go through the Day of the Lord, what do we need to do?

The first thing that I need to do is serve the Lord by sharing the message of the Gospel with as many people as possible so that they have a chance to escape the Day of the Lord. By sharing the Gospel, I have a chance to make disciples and God will produce fruit (new disciples) through me. I need to build my life around this idea. I need to plan my time and activities to be able to reach out to as many people as possible.

The second thing that I need to do is to avoid idols that will distract me from being used by God to produce fruit. I need to orient my life around serving the living God.

9 For they themselves report about us what kind of a reception we had with you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God,
10 and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come. (I Thessalonians 1)

The third thing that I need to do is not be ignorant of God’s plan for the ages.

13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. (I Thessalonians 4)

I need to know so that I will have hope and I need to share what I know with others so that they can have hope too. Knowing God’s plan will comfort me when difficult times come my way. If I am ignorant of God’s plan for the ages, I could have my faith shaken by false teachings and, I will also be able to help those around me who have been deceived by false teaching.

Are you actively awaiting the Day of the Lord by serving God with the amount of time that He has given to you? Are you seeking to make disciples so that more and more people will not have to endure the Day of the Lord? Are you seeking to expand your knowledge of God’s plan for the ages so that you will be able to do as Daniel says that those who know the Lord will do in difficult times?

32 ” . . . but the people who know their God will display strength and take action. (Daniel 11)

What action is God leading you to take for the kingdom? What are the idols in your life that keep you from serving God to the fullest? Ask God to show you those idols so that you can turn away from them and be even more effective for His kingdom while you live on this earth. If you ask Him with a sincere heart, He will reveal them to you. As He reveals them to you, what are you going to do? May the Lord help us understand His plan for the ages and walk according to that precious knowledge!

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2 comments on “The Church and the Day of the Lord

  1. Pingback: Praying for your Disciples | Erik and Elena Brewer's Weblog

  2. Pingback: Striving to live a disciplined life | Erik and Elena Brewer's Weblog

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