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The Day of the Lord, Part 2

Grace To You / John MacArthur
The Truth Network Radio
July 5, 2023 4:00 am

The Day of the Lord, Part 2

Grace To You / John MacArthur

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July 5, 2023 4:00 am

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And if with the day of the Lord you realize it could happen to any generation, it ought to make you very, very concerned about the generation in which you live having to face this eternal judgment. We don't know when that terror is going to break loose, but we're busy persuading men because we know it's coming. Welcome to Grace to You with John MacArthur.

I'm your host, Phil Johnson. Some years ago, police in Philadelphia who were dealing with a rash of bicycle thefts began using unlocked bikes to lure criminals. Officers kept watch on the vulnerable bikes, and they were able to catch a number of thieves in the act of stealing.

And of course, most of the time, you have no way of knowing when a thief will come. It's that aspect of complete surprise that Scripture is getting at when it says the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. Find out what it takes to be ready for Christ's return and protected from the divine wrath that follows.

Here's John MacArthur to continue his study, The Rapture and the Day of the Lord. We find ourselves in chapter 5, and I would invite you to turn to chapter 5, and we look again at the first three verses of this chapter. 1 Thessalonians, chapter 5, verses 1 through 3. A discussion takes place between the Apostle Paul and the governor by the name of Felix.

His wife is by his side, she being named Drusilla. The Apostle Paul comes before the governor and his wife with the purpose of presenting to them the way of truth in Jesus Christ, or the gospel. And as he approaches them, it's clearly stated in verse 25 of Acts 24 that he discussed with them three things, righteousness, self-control, and judgment. Here was the Apostle Paul confronting a pagan. Here was the Apostle Paul confronting the man who was his captor, who really had authority over his life. Here was the Apostle Paul confronting a man that he longed to bring to the knowledge of Christ, and of what did he speak? He spoke of righteousness.

What does that mean? He told Felix and Drusilla that God had a righteous standard, that God was a righteous and a holy God who could not tolerate sin. That's what the righteousness of God is all about. He told them that God demanded perfect sinlessness.

Even as Jesus said, be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect. And then he spoke to them about self-control. That is, that not only is God perfect and demands a perfect standard, but man must also meet that standard and must exercise self-control in so doing. And then he spoke of judgment.

What did he mean by that? That man cannot meet that standard and so he is under condemnation. God is righteous and has a righteous standard.

Man must control himself to live to that standard. If he fails, he is damned. Paul taught sin. Paul taught judgment. Paul was really right on target because it says in John's gospel, chapter 16, that the Holy Spirit will come into the world to convict men of sin and righteousness and judgment.

Same issues. And so the Apostle Paul, right in line with the work of the Holy Spirit, was giving to this man a message about judgment. I believe that all faithful prophets, all faithful apostles, and all faithful preachers and teachers preach judgment. Even though the Apostle Paul was only a few weeks with the Thessalonians and then had to leave and is now some months later writing this letter back, in the few weeks that he was there and was used by God to give birth to the church, he taught them about these same matters. He must have brought to them the same kind of message about God, the true God who had a righteous standard, a standard to which all men were called to live and if they didn't were judged. And then the rest of the story, which is that God sent His Son to pay the penalty for our failure to keep the standard, to offer us forgiveness and clothe us with His own righteousness. So they must have known about wrath.

Surely they did. Go back to chapter 1 and verse 10 for a moment. As Paul writes back and describes them, he says that you really are a second coming church, verse 10 of chapter 1, waiting for His Son from heaven whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.

He doesn't describe what that is because obviously they already knew. Part of His ministry to them was to give them information about the wrath to come. In chapter 2 and verse 16, he again notes at the end of the verse, but wrath has come upon them to the utmost.

And this wrath here is undefined because no doubt He had already told them about it. In chapter 4, verse 6, again he refers to the fact that the Lord is an avenger. The Lord will bring vengeance. And in the second letter that he writes them a little later, 2 Thessalonians, would you notice chapter 1? This also builds on the previous knowledge that they had about the wrath of God. After an opening greeting and a word of thanks in verses 3 and 4 for their spiritual progress, he then in verse 5 begins to talk about God's righteous judgment. And down in verse 6 he says, God is going to repay with affliction those who afflict His church. And then in verse 7 he says, the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.

And these will pay the penalty of eternal destruction away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power. In these two letters then, there are a number of references to the coming judgment. References which build upon what Paul had already taught them in a presentation of the gospel. Down in 2 Thessalonians chapter 2 and verse 5, while talking here about the day of the Lord, he says, do you not remember that while I was still with you, I was telling you these things? In any presentation of the gospel, it is mandatory that there be a discussion of judgment. Paul taught sin, Paul taught judgment.

Paul had already delineated some of that information to the Thessalonians when he was there in Thessalonica founding the church. He must have told them about the day of the Lord to some degree, for in the second letter as I read in chapter 2 verse 5, he says, when I was with you, I was telling you these things. He must have told them about the day of fury, the day of wrath, the day of vengeance, the day of judgment when God destroys the wicked and consigns them to eternal hell. Judgment was a part of his message. And it is about that judgment that he speaks here in chapter 5. Let's look at the first three verses.

Now as to the times and the epochs, brethren, you have no need of anything to be written to you. For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. While they are saying, peace and safety, then destruction will come upon them suddenly like birth pangs upon a woman with child and they shall not escape. This reference to the day of the Lord in verse 2 keys this entire text all the way down through verse 11. The prophets of the Old Testament also spoke of the day of the Lord, as I pointed out in our last study. They called it the great and terrible day of the Lord.

Amos, for example, is one of the prophets that writes about the day of the Lord, along with others like Isaiah, Ezekiel, Zephaniah and Malachi. And Amos, for example, shows us that the day of the Lord will be darkness and not light. It will be judgment and not mercy.

It will be wrath and not blessing. He shows us that the day of the Lord will bring a disruption of the physical order, a cosmic catastrophe caused by God Himself as He overrules the natural process. Amos tells us that under the fury of divine judgment on the day of the Lord, the whole earth will be devastated and will become like a turbulent sea or like the rising and falling of the Nile River which overflows its banks for miles, drowning and submerging everything in its wake. Amos tells us that the sun will go out at noon and cover the whole world in darkness. And then Amos says supernatural fire will come to destroy the sea and the land. The prophetic view of the day of the Lord is indeed frightening, frightening. And while each of those Old Testament prophets was looking at a historical event in the near future in which God would come in wrath, and that was a historical day of the Lord, they also saw beyond that to a final ultimate eschatological day of the Lord when God will ultimately destroy all the wicked in the world. In chapter 5, the apostle Paul wants to talk about this day.

You say, why? Because it has implications for his readers and it has implications for you. Those implications unfold in verses 4 through 11.

We'll get to those in a little while, not today. But we have to live in the light of God's eternal judgment. When we understand the fear of the Lord, that should put something into our lives that might not otherwise be there in terms of motivation and responsibility. And so he has a message to give to these believers about living in the light of God's devastating final and eternal judgment on the ungodly. And he'll give that message in these 11 verses. Now remember in chapter 4 as he ended the chapter, he gave a marvelous insight into the rapture.

That's a different event. The rapture is the catching away of the church. That's not something to fear. That's something to comfort.

In fact, in verse 18 of chapter 4, it says, comfort one another with these words. The rapture describes the catching away of the church. It's a blessed event. It's a wonderful event.

It's a hopeful event. It's a joyous event. It's the time of our glorification. It's the time of our reward. It's the time when we become like Jesus Christ.

It's the time when we enter into his wonderful and eternal presence in the Father's house, in the room that he's been preparing for us ever since he left. But from that wonderful event, that hopeful event, he moves to that horrible event called the day of the Lord. The previous section on the rapture was to comfort troubled Christians. This one is to trouble comfortable Christians. His discussion of the rapture was not necessarily comprehensive, just enough to comfort them.

And his discussion here of the day of the Lord is not comprehensive. It's just enough to motivate us. In both cases, there is a practical, applicational purpose.

There is an ethical, behavioral goal in mind. On the one hand, to bring us comfort. On the other hand, to bring us motivation to holy living. So as we come to chapter 5 and the day of the Lord, let's look at these first three verses again, continue where we left off. And remember, there are three features that come clear in these first verses. The coming of the day of the Lord, the character of the day of the Lord, and the completeness of the day of the Lord. He introduces the subject in verse 1.

Remember this now. We looked at it in our last message. Now, as to the times in the epics, brethren, you have no need of anything to be written to you. Like many people since that time, and today as well, they were curious about when Jesus was going to come. When is the rapture? When is the day of the Lord?

When are all these end time events going to take place? He says, you have no need of anything to be written to you. Why? Because you don't need to know that. That's not something you need to know. You know what you need to know. You know the Lord Jesus is going to come back in flaming fire and He's going to bring wrath on the ungodly. You already know that. You don't need to know when. You don't need to know the kranos and the kairos, the times and seasons.

When is it going to happen? At what period of human history? You don't need to know that. Paul's response, by the way, was exactly like Jesus. Matthew 24, 36, Acts 1, 7, he said, it's not for you to know the times and the seasons.

It's not for you to know. He even made the amazing and astounding statement that even the Son of Man doesn't know that. But God the Father alone. God has left us in the dark about that.

Why? So that every generation would live in the light of the reality that it could happen in their lifetime. So that every generation would have to face the fact that Jesus could come in final judgment during their lifetime. Now the Lord has given us information about the rapture, described it, told us what's going to happen. The dead in Christ rise first. The ones who are alive and remain meet them in the air.

They all go to heaven to dwell in the Father's house and to ever be with the Lord. We understand there's a trumpet and the voice of an angel, but we don't know the timing. We know a little bit about the event, but we don't know exactly when it's going to happen. There is no discussion of timing in any passage dealing with the rapture. There are three explicit passages in the New Testament that deal with the rapture.

Very clear, John 14, 1 Corinthians 15, 1 Thessalonians 4. None of them tell us when. We have no knowledge of when. There are numerous passages about the day of the Lord, but there is no date given.

There is no specific day or hour. Now there are some indications that the day of the Lord is near, and we'll talk about those in a moment. But the specific time is not known so that everyone lives in expectation, everyone lives in anticipation. Once the signs that precede the day of the Lord start to happen, a wise and informed person could know that it was coming soon but not know the day or the hour.

But as to when those preliminary signs will start and what generation will be alive to experience that, we have no knowledge, none whatsoever. And anybody who sets a date is operating completely independent of God, the Holy Spirit, and the Scripture. There is an element in both the rapture and the day of the Lord that you must recognize, and that's the element of unexpectedness. Unexpectedness.

So that everyone lives in anticipation and accountability and expectation. Now let's review the coming in verse 2. For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night.

How did they know that full well? Well, Paul said, I taught you many of these things, 2 Thessalonians 2.5. He also probably reiterated that Jesus said that, that the day of the Lord is going to come like a thief in the night. He is borrowing terminology, by the way, from our Lord, who is the one who said the day of the Lord would come like a thief. Paul adds the little phrase, in the night, because that's usually when thieves came and come. But the point he makes here is, look, you already know because I've told you and because Jesus said it, that the day of the Lord is like a thief.

What does that mean? The thief doesn't announce his arrival. Your relatives tell you they're coming, you hope. Your friends tell you they're coming.

Your enemies never tell you that. The thief does not announce that. His coming is unexpected, and that's the simple analogy that the Apostle Paul wants to review with him.

You can't know. It's unexpected. Back in Matthew, chapter 24, the Lord indicated this in numerous ways. He said, if the householder in the house had known when the thief was coming, he would have been prepared and he wouldn't have had his house broken into. And further in that chapter, he says in verse 50, if the slave had known when the master was coming back, he would have ordered his life a little differently.

But there's an unexpectedness. Chapter 25, verse 13 says, be on the alert, for you don't know when your master is coming. In Luke 12, 39, and 40, the Lord says the same thing. So Paul says, look, with regard to timing and when it's going to happen, you don't have any need of anything to be written to you because God hasn't given us that information and you don't need it. The only thing you don't need to know you already know because you know full well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night in a time when you don't expect it.

Timing details are not given. No man knows the day nor the hour, not even the Son of Man, but the Father only, Jesus said. So like the rapture, we can know about the event, but we can't know when it's going to happen. And so the day of the Lord, we can know about it, but we can't know when it's going to happen.

Such information is not available because the Lord has not chosen to give it. But that introduces us then to that concept in verse 2 of the day of the Lord. That's a technical term. That is a technical phrase. It appears numerous times in the Old and New Testament.

What does it mean? The final cataclysmic judgment by God on the wicked. It refers to the time of the culmination of God's fury and wrath in final climactic judgment. The prophets spoke of it. The writers of the New Testament speak of it. And always it refers to the unleashing of God's final fury on sinners on the earth. As I said, there was a historical day of the Lord. The Old Testament writers wrote about there was only a small preview of that final eschatological day of the Lord that would come in the very end time. In all discussions of the day of the Lord, there's a sense of nearness, of expectation, an element of surprise. As I said, this is true for the rapture and this is true for the day of the Lord. It will be sudden, unwelcomed, harmful and unexpected. Is there benefit in living without this information?

Yes. 1 John 3 says that he that hath this hope in him purifies himself, speaking of the rapture really. If you have the hope that you're going to go to be with Jesus Christ and that could happen any moment and you're going to be made like Him and you're going to see Him face to face, that kind of hope should have a direct effect on the purity of your own life, right?

Absolutely right. And if that's with the rapture and if with the day of the Lord you realize it could happen to any generation, it ought to make you very, very concerned about the generation in which you live having to face this eternal judgment. We don't know when that terror is going to break loose, but we're busy persuading men because we know it's coming. Certainly Paul felt the rapture would come in his lifetime followed by the day of the Lord. And when it didn't come, the Thessalonians were concerned and wanted to know when it was going to come. Paul says there's no such information.

Now, let me go on and give you some insights that you need to have. No passage, no passage dealing with the rapture gives any preliminary signs that the rapture is about to happen. John 14, 1 Corinthians 15, 1 Thessalonians 4 are the rapture texts of the New Testament.

None of them gives us any preliminary sign. No passages talk about precursors, preliminary events, nothing like that. On the other hand, follow my thinking, on the other hand, passages dealing with the day of the Lord do mention precursors, preliminary events, signs, signals so that a person should have some general idea that it's near.

You say, well, what are these preliminary events? There are none given in the rapture passages. There are numerous ones given in the day of the Lord passages.

Let me give you a sampling. In Malachi 4, 5, don't turn to it, but in Malachi 4, 5, Malachi says that before the day of the Lord can come, an Elijah-like forerunner must come first, like John the Baptist came before the coming of Christ, a forerunner. Malachi 4, 5 says the day of the Lord cannot occur until this Elijah-like, this prophetic person, this sort of John the Baptist type comes to announce the coming of the Messiah. So God is actually going to send a forerunner before the day of the Lord to announce His coming.

Malachi 4, 5. So if the forerunner isn't here yet making that announcement, then the day of the Lord isn't near yet. You've been listening to John MacArthur on Grace to You. John is chancellor of the Masters University and Seminary, and his lesson today is part of his compelling end-time series from 1 Thessalonians titled The Rapture and the Day of the Lord. Now, John, you made it clear today that no one knows when the day of the Lord is going to happen. Still, there are clues that Jesus Himself revealed about His return, indicators that you'd say are important for us to keep in mind. Yes, there are details laid out in the Bible that sort of become landing lights, letting us know we're kind of hitting the runway as we look at the future.

There are things to expect in the culture, things to expect in the world, things to expect in the Church, into escalating sin. There are lots of things that are laid out in Scripture that are markers for the return of Christ. There are some appearances of some critical personalities in eschatological history yet to come that are markers as well. I've tried to lay all of that out in a book called The Second Coming, and let me press this a little bit.

There are so many Christian people who are comfortable to take an ignorant position and just say, well, I don't know, it all seems confusing to me, and maybe they hear pastors and theologians talk like that. But you need to know the end of the story. You need to know how redemptive history ends.

It matters. Look, you want to get the beginning right—Genesis—you want to get the end right as well. And the Lord has revealed clear, detailed truths related to His Second Coming. Not the fantasy world, but actual revelation in Holy Scripture. All of this I've tried to put in a book called The Second Coming. It's not speculation, it's not newspaper interpretation, it's what the Bible says about the return of Christ.

And if you have that hope, it's a purifying hope. Again, the book titled The Second Coming, and it's a paperback book, about 200 pages. You need to be aware of what the Lord has planned for this planet, for the universe, for believers and unbelievers, and for the wrap-up of human history. It's all available in the book The Second Coming, affordably priced and available from Grace to You today.

That's right. Perhaps you have questions about Christ's return, or you wonder what it means for you. Maybe you know people who aren't sure they're ready for it. John's book, The Second Coming, has helpful answers. Order a copy today. The Second Coming costs $15, and shipping is free. You can order now at GTY.org or call us toll-free at 855-GRACE.

That number, by the way, translates to 800-554-7223. And remember, there are thousands of free resources available at GTY.org if you're looking to grow in your love for God and His Word, or if you're wondering what Scripture says about how to be a better parent, or if you want to know more about key doctrines of the Christian faith, like salvation or holiness or spiritual gifts, you will find a sermon, a blog article, or a devotional that will get you the answers you need. Our website again, GTY.org. Also, friend, let me encourage you to follow us on social media. We regularly post about John's newest books or upcoming series and the latest Grace To You news, and you'll find us on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. Now for John MacArthur, I'm Phil Johnson, reminding you that Grace To You television airs this Sunday. Check our website to see if it airs in your area and then be here tomorrow when John continues to help you make sure that you're ready for Christ's return with another 30 minutes of unleashing God's truth, one verse at a time, on Grace To You.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-07-05 05:45:12 / 2023-07-05 05:55:15 / 10

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