The sanctity of sex, life in the family of God, and the day of the Lord—those are just three of the big issues Dr. Jeffrey Weima guides students through in his Logos Mobile Education course on 1 & 2 Thessalonians.
In this excerpt adapted from the course, he shares two questions every Christian should be asking about the day of the Lord.
We begin our study of 1 Thessalonians 5:1–11, not as we normally do—namely, by asking, “What is the trouble in the text?”—but, this time, by beginning, instead, with the trouble in the world. And in that regard, we ask two closely connected questions regarding the day of the Lord, the event of Christ’s return, and the final judgment. And those two questions are this:
- Are you ready for that day; and
- Are you steady for that day?
The first question (“Are you ready for that day?”), really, is asking whether you are prepared; whether you live in a state of expectation and preparation for the glorious return of Christ. And in this passage, it’s referred to as the day of the Lord.
C. S. Lewis, in his book The Screwtape Letters, said that there were two dangers when it came to demons. He said the one danger is that you deny that they exist; but he said the other danger, equally as bad, is that you pay too much attention to them. In a similar way, I suggest to you that there are two dangers when it comes to, well, thinking about the end times—the return of Jesus and the day of the Lord.
2 dangers to thinking about the end times
Too much attention
The one danger that Christians can easily fall into is to pay too much attention to this subject, and there is, unfortunately, lots of evidence to prove that it is indeed a danger.
If you go back a few years to 1970—I am thinking of the book by Hal Lindsey, The Late Great Planet Earth—and Christians back then were actually quite surprised that a Christian book like that would sell over a million copies.
But that pales compared to my next example, a book written by a guy named Edgar Whisenant.
Even though this person had no theological training, [and] even though he wasn’t connected with any congregation or with any church, he had a really, really bad book with a really, really catchy title. And this really, really bad book with a really, really catchy title was entitled 88 Reasons Why the Rapture [Will Be] in 1988. Now, he had a follow-up the year after that, not surprisingly, didn’t do so well. But I’m afraid I must tell you that this bad book with the catchy title sold (are you ready?) over four and a half million copies—further evidence of people, readers, who are little too preoccupied with being ready; with thinking about the return of Jesus.
But those numbers, of course, pale in comparison with the Left Behind series—sixty-five million copies or more. It’s impossible to get a true number, but it’s staggering, the amount of copies [and] the huge interest in these books that deal with the end times.
Movies and video games
And, of course, it is not just the books; it is also, possibly, the one, two, three Hollywood movies dealing with Left Behind. And there [is] also a Left Behind series for teenagers, and there is also a video game for Left Behind. In fact, there is a whole industry surrounding this business of being Left Behind.
And all of this, I suggest to you, is evidence of that first danger: being a little too interested, a little too preoccupied, with [the] end times, with the topic of Christ’s return and the topic of the day of the Lord.
Too little attention
But remember, there are two dangers. I’ve highlighted one. I also have to highlight the other. The other, of course, is not being interested enough in this particular topic. I happen to teach at a school [which] is named after the great Reformation theologian John Calvin, and John Calvin has commentaries on every book of the Bible except one. You’re probably guessing which one it is that he didn’t write anything on, and that’s the book of Revelation.
What is the trouble in the world? The trouble is the recognition that people, not just unbelievers, but believers, too, are typically neither ready nor steady for the day of the Lord. —Dr. Jeffrey Weima Click To Tweet
So, when I asked that first question—Are you ready?—I’m thinking about whether you have a proper, healthy interest in the return of Jesus.
Someone once said this profound statement: once Christians discovered heaven on earth, there was no need for them to look for it anywhere else. And I’m afraid that there are too many Jesus followers today who have, frankly, found heaven on earth. Life is so good for them in the here and now [that] they are not ready. They are not thinking at all about being prepared for the great and glorious day of Christ’s return.
But there is a second question. It is closely connected to the first, but it’s slightly different—not only “Are you ready for that day?” but also “Are you steady for that day?” And by that, I mean that humanity in general has a sense of not just interest but also fear about the future. Think back to the start of the new millennium in 2000 [and] that phrase that was so widely used back then, Y2K. And there were lots of people who were, frankly, freaking out about all the bad things that were going to happen when the calendar turned to the year 2000. And, in fact, they gave it a name; they called it “millennium madness.”
And in more recent times, the National Geographic Channel has produced a TV show that’s entitled How to Survive the End of the World. And, sadly, it’s not just unbelievers who at times are not steady, who kind of freak out or get unduly fearful about the future; sometimes Christians, Jesus followers, do.
So, when we ask the question, as we begin our study of 5:1–11, “What is the trouble in the world?” the trouble is the recognition that people, not just unbelievers, but believers, too, are typically neither ready nor steady for the day of the Lord.
You’ll find a lot more to think about in Dr. Weima’s course on 1 & 2 Thessalonians. With short lessons, so you can learn at your own pace, and quizzes to check your understanding, you’ll leave the course with a deeper appreciation of these letters.