What Does 1 Thessalonians 5:6 Mean?

so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober.

1 Thessalonians 5:6(NASB)

Verse Thoughts

The coming Day-of-the-Lord is a future period of time when God will intervene in the history of mankind once again. This prophesied 'Day' is not a 24-hour long period, but a specific season in the history of the world.

As Christians, we are exhorted to be alert and sober as we see this 'Day' approaching. We should not to allow this 'Day' to creep up on us unawares, or sleep as others do. We should not be indifferent or lukewarm but should walk in spirit and truth, and live circumspectly.

Many passages in both the Old and New Testaments explain this 'Day' as follows: 1) The 7 year Tribulation period, as outlined by Daniel. 2) The period which Jeremiah calls 'the Time of Jacob's Trouble' which occurs during the last 3 1/2 years of the 7 year Tribulation period. 3) The prophesied return of Christ to earth with His saints to set up His earthly Millennial Kingdom at the end of the 7 year Tribulation period. 4) The 1000-year Millennial Kingdom when Jesus reigns as King of kings and Lord of lords. 5) The destruction of heaven and earth at the end of the Millennium - before the creation of a new heaven and a new earth.

The coming Day-of-the-Lord which covers the five time periods outlined above, will last a minimum of 1007 years... and in his letter to the Thessalonians, Paul identifies two groups that will be impacted when the Day-of-the-Lord begins. The first group are called 'THEY' while the second group are labelled 'WE'.

The former grouping refers to unbelievers while the latter clearly identifies saved individuals. 'THEY' are people who have not trusted Christ as their Saviour while 'WE' are those that have been saved by grace through faith in Christ. Every member of the human race alive when the 'Day' begins, falls into one of these two categories - the unsaved and the saved 'THEY' and 'WE'. THEY will have to go through the Tribulation period but WE will escape from it.

Paul explains that the Day-of-the-Lord will arrive like a thief in the night for 'THEM'. For the unsaved it will arrive suddenly and unexpectedly. That 'Day' will creep up on them quietly and deceptively and in its wake will come inevitable and inescapable destruction and bitter tribulation. Unbelieving Israel and unbelieving Gentiles are the group that are labelled 'THEY' in this verse. WE, on the other hand, will see this 'Day' approaching.

"For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord is coming just like a thief in the night. While they are saying, 'Peace and safety!' then sudden destruction will come upon them like labour pains upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness, so that the day would overtake you like a thief; for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness; so then, let’s not sleep as others do, but let’s be alert and sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who are drunk, get drunk at night. But since we are of the day, let’s be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation."

Paul is exhorting us to understand the times in which we are living and to live accordingly. And as we study God's Word and observe the world and current events around us, there are many indications that the time for God's next intervention into the history of the world is almost here. The Day-of-the-Lord is very close - closer than when we first believed. So then let us not sleep as others do. Let us be alert and sober as we see the 'Day' approaching so that we are not surprised or overtaken by events.

Paul also goes on to tell us that although we are to be watchful for the Day-of-the-Lord, we as believers will not be on earth for the 7 year Tribulation period where God's wrath is poured out: "For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep, we will live together with Him." Before the 'Day' begins, the trumpet will sound, the bodies of dead believers will be resurrected. And we who are alive and remain will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air and from then on we will ever be with the Lord.

The Bible tells us many things that will take place during the Day-of-the-Lord. Israel, as a nation, will be protected, recognise Christ as their Messiah, and call on His name and be saved. A multitude without number will be saved during the Tribulation period and serve the Lord for 1000 years, and sing songs of rejoicing to the Lord. Satan will bring the nations of the world against Christ twice (at the end of the Tribulation and after the 1000 year Millenium period) but he will be thrown into the lake of fire, followed by hell and death itself.

Let us not allow ourselves to be overtaken by surprise like the unbelieving world. Let us recognise, from the prophetic Scriptures, that the coming Day-of-the-Lord is fast approaching - which means the Rapture of the Church is even closer, as it happens before the 'Day' begins. So let us be alert and sober and encourage one another, as we see the 'Day' getting closer.

"Therefore, encourage one another and build one another up, just as you also are doing."

My Prayer

Heavenly Father, thank You for Your Word and the comfort it gives to us. Thank You that despite the turmoil the world is in, You are still in control. I pray that I may remain awake and alert, looking for that blessed day when Christ will come in the clouds to receive us unto Himself. I pray that despite the terrible Tribulation period, when Your justified wrath will be poured out on a Christ rejecting sinful world, that many would come to faith in the Lord Jesus and be redeemed out of the terrible consequences of unbelief. The Spirit and the Bride say 'come'. Maranatha - even so, come Lord Jesus! AMEN.

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