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Don't Try to Guess the Date

"The Day of Judgment" by William Blake

The certainty of the final judgment, testified in Scripture, begs the question: "How should we prepare for judgment?" That is the question Paul addresses in 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11....


Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers and sisters, you do not need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. When they say, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them, as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and there will be no escape! But you, beloved, are not in darkness, for that day to surprise you like a thief; for you are all children of light and children of the day; we are not of the night or of darkness. So then let us not fall asleep as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober; for those who sleep sleep at night, and those who are drunk get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, and put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. For God has destined us not for wrath but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep we may live with him. Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing.
The first thing that Paul tells us about how to prepare for the final judgment is: Don't try to figure out the date.

Christ is coming back; that is certain. As Lewis says, the play will end and the author will give us comments on the part that each of us has played. If we have not played our part well, then there will be consequences. For those who have played their part well, there will be a reward. However, just when the end will come, when the author will walk on the stage, that is not revealed to us.

Paul says the reason why we should not try to figure out the date of Christ's return and the final judgment is because it will be sudden. He says Christ's coming will be unexpected, like a thief in the night. A thief does not send a warning saying, "I am going to break into your house tomorrow at 2 am. Please place all your valuables in plain sight." No, the thief comes suddenly, unexpectedly, and finds people unprepared.

Paul also says that Jesus' return in judgment will be sudden and unavoidable like a woman going into labor. With the birth of all three of our children, we knew generally when they were going to be born, but exactly when it was going to happen remained a surprise. When labor sets in it is sudden, but it is also unavoidable. The mother can't escape once it has started. In the same way, Jesus' return in judgment will be sudden and inescapable.

Jesus said, "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father." (Matthew 24:36) Since that is the case, there is no use trying to figure out the date.

However, that does not mean that we cannot prepare ourselves to face the final judgment when it comes. Beginning tomorrow, we will look in further detail at what Paul says about how to prepare....

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