Scratching the Surface of 1 & 2 Thessalonians
When people start talking/debating about the when and what and where of the rapture, second coming, and other particulars about end times, I tend to shift off into thoughts about the pros and cons of cavity backs versus blades, the best octane for my pony, and why I still eat buffalo wings after Friday night football games when I know I'm gonna pay for it into the wee hours of the next day.
I guess that's because the why of it all has always been enough for me; as Paul wrote in these two letters: "He will come with His mighty angels, in flaming fire, bringing judgment on those who refuse to obey the Good News of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction, forever separated from the Lord...when He comes to receive glory and praise from His holy people. And you will be among those praising Him on that day, for you believed what we testified about Him."
Really, when we think too much about it, there's been so much disagreement about the particulars while there's been unanimous consent about the end time being the best news for those who've sided with Him. From everything that He's told us in the book, it will be heavenly for people who've trusted Him as Source, Starter, Sovereign, and Savior.
Again, I go back to Grandpa Kopp: "Don't miss the forest for the trees."
I'm not saying it's bad to try to figure out the particulars in Mark 13, Matthew 24, Revelation, and other apocalyptic texts.
I'm just saying it's better to know we can disagree on the particulars because the big and best message is we're gonna be just...great...in the end.
These two letters look at that/His picture.
Paul confirms the other witnesses in the final chapter of the end being preceded by all hell breaking out: "Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God."
All of that on top of all of the horrific stuff mentioned in Mark 13, Matthew 24, Revelation, and other apocalyptic texts that indicate the horrific stuff will get worse and worse and worse in frequency and intensity until it's all over and the eternal Kingdom is established; noting John's description as the most comprehensively clear, compelling, and conclusive: "Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth...I saw the holy city...I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 'Behold, the dwelling place of God is with people. He will dwell with them, and they will be His people, and God Himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away...And he who was seated on the throne said, 'Behold, I am making all things new.'"
Again, I don't understand the need to catalogue all of the particulars of when and what and where because trusting God includes trusting God for all things from here to eternity.
Candidly, I get headaches when I try to figure out all of those particulars or listen to someone trying to figure out all of those particulars.
Besides, I think, and I may be wrong on this but, admittedly, while I'm just scratching the surface, I am scratching and even someone as tight with God as Paul confessed the distance between us and Him when it comes to that kinda eschatological stuff: "I really don't need to write to you about how and when all this will happen...For we know quite well that the day of the Lord will come unexpectedly..."
And while I know folks who are really, really, really into trying to figure out the particulars of the end times will be offended by anyone bringing this up - and you can go to almost any bookstore and finds lots of books on the particulars that seem to ignore this - Jesus, who apparently has a lot more divine insight into all of this than we'll ever have no matter how much He loves us, said, "No one knows of that day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son Himself. Only the Father knows."
So, again, let's not miss the forest for the trees; or the big and best picture in favor of the ultimately insignificant particulars beyond our humanly finite comprehension that seem to stress out too many people and keep them from the joy of knowing we're gonna be just heavenly in the end.
So, quickly, let's review the big picture.
Bad things are coming in increasing frequency and intensity as history draws to a close as the preface to paradise for everyone who really knows and loves Him; meaning why worry about the small stuff that won't last when He's already taken care of the big stuff that is forever: "We are looking forward to the coming of God's Son from heaven - Jesus...He is the one who has rescued us from the terrors of the coming judgment...The Lord has decided to save us. He died for us so that we can live with Him forever, whether we are dead or alive at the time of His return. So encourage each other and build each other up..."
That certainty causes us, as Paul wrote in these letters, to worship, work, and witness - live - with the prayer, ambition, and goal of becoming holier and holier and holier to Him in gratitude for this gospel: "God wants you to be holy...may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless until that day when our Lord Jesus comes again..."
A favorite story comes to mind; capturing the peace in the heart, soul, mind, and body of believers who may not know all of the particulars but see the big picture.
During a terrible storm at sea, a little boy sat calmly on deck. A woman asked, "Aren't you afraid?" The boy answered, "Why should I be afraid of the storm? My father is the captain of the ship!"
Why should we be afraid of...anything or anyone?
Our Father is the captain of the ship!
...to be continued...
Blessings and Love!
As one pastor put it, when I was in high school: "I don't preach Jesus coming again before the tribulation, and I don't preach Jesus coming again after the tribulation. I just preach Jesus coming again."
Amen, mon ami!
Bob, you said this so beautifully and so well! Truly the important thing to focus on is that we belong to him and he is our captain, and everything will be ok as long as we keep their eyes upon him! Clearly things are changing and the tide is coming in. Things are progressing worse and worse but for us...we know we have a redeemer who will come for us when the time is right. My heart breaks for those who will not know him when he comes. We must focus on the harvest and keep our eyes on Jesus! Much love to you,
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