1 Thessalonians 5:1-2 – Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you. 2 For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.
Winter hiking requires additional preparations that you may not consider in other seasons, unless you hike in the high mountains where you need to be prepared for extreme weather any time of the year. Carrying a cutting tool, fire starting supplies, a map and compass, a first aid kit, and enough food and water are important all the time, but even more so in cold weather; and clothing, that you may barely give a second thought to in warmer weather, becomes a major concern in the winter. The key to being prepared is to “expect the unexpected,” so you are ready to handle any situation. When you are away from civilization you often cannot just call 911 when an emergency arises, and even if you can it will likely take rescuers much longer to get to you than when you are at home. (REI’s website has a great article with Winter Camping and Backpacking Tips if you want to read more.)
Today’s passage from 1 Thessalonians 5 is all about being prepared in the “times and seasons” while we await the second coming of Christ. And just like a winter hike, these preparations we make in our Christian walk are necessary because there is an element of the unexpected, “the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.” In Matthew 24:44 Jesus, himself, tells his disciples, “Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” And in Matthew 25:13, he says, “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”
Clearly we do not know when the Lord will come again, and because of this we need to be ready at any time. Fortunately in 1 Thessalonians 5:12-22 Paul gives us advice on some things we can do to prepare, as well as some things not to do, that are written almost in checklist fashion:
12 We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, 13 and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. 14 And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. 15 See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies, 21 but test everything; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil.
If we read this passage daily and heeded Paul’s advice, how much more joyful could we be in our approach to life? How would it change our outlook and our expectations if we actually did what we are told to do in these eleven short verses?
Do you think this sounds impossible? Well, we find good news as Paul concludes the body of his letter to the believers in Thessalonica with these great words of encouragement:
23 Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it. (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24)
These are words that we too should take to heart. They are words that give us hope because it means we are not doing this alone, and they are words that apply equally to us as believers today!
Read more about my “God is Revealed…“ category of posts
© Todd D. Nystrom and Todd the Hiker, 2014.