1 THESSALONIANS 5 – Averting Terror
As a young child in Australia, Guy Fawkes Night was something exciting that I’ll always remember. Where we live now in the UK, tens of thousands come in from the countryside for our city’s annual Bonfire Night. It’s held on the Saturday night closest to the 5th of November, and it’s always been a highlight for our family – most especially when the children were young. We’d use old school uniforms stuffed with newspapers to make our “guy” for our garden fire. Mark usually did a BBQ (even in the snow one time), which we ate watching the supermarket-bought sparklers. In many ways, I had the chance to re-enact a childhood with my own children. On bonfire night, they’d be togged up with hats, coats and gloves and I’d be armed with large garbage bags, picnic blanket, hot chocolate and biscuits. Then we’d head off in the dark to join the throng on the street all heading in the same direction.
The bonfire theme, down at the city park, is different every year. With wooden crates piled at least 20 feet high, the City Council constructed a huge clock one year with a mechanical mouse running up the clock. Another year was a massive juke box. The mobile radio station van played 1950s music for the fire show. One year it was “Pirates of the Caribbean” with a huge pirate ship going up in smoke. Still another year was an incredible recreation of London’s Houses of Parliament – including the Big Ben clock tower. They had barrels with sparkle-fountains burning from them in addition to the usual wooden crates for the huge fire.
But with 30 barrels of gunpowder, Guy Fawkes could have not just killed King James and his government, but the fireball created from the initial blast under the Houses of Parliament, almost certainly would have destroyed a significant part of London – as small as it was in 1605.
In our age of terrorism, civil wars, refugees flooding into Europe and airliners filled with holiday makers crashing, Paul said something very interesting in this morning’s chapter.
“For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath, but to receive salvation through Jesus Christ. [v9]
So on a day when people in the UK remember Guy Fawkes and the sudden terror that was averted in 1605, we’re told that something sudden and unexpected will be coming our way. Some will rightly experience the full “wrath of God” for all the evil plotting they have done in their lives.[a] Others though, have been rescued from the coming wrath.[b] They’ve been appointed for salvation. [v9] That’s the really great news – the “gospel” (Good News) message!
We seem to live in an age where we’re more worried about terrorists than coming face-to-face with our Maker’s final judgement. While every generation for the past 2,000 years have waited for what Paul spoke about in v1-11, we’re to keep watching and keep prepared, in order to avert the terrifying experience of coming under the wrath of God. To avert disaster, Paul suggested 12 things to add to our Handbook for Life. They’re the sort of things that I need to remind myself of everyday…
- Acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who caution you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. [v12-13]
- Live in peace with each other. [v13]
- Warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. [v14]
- Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else. [v15]
- Rejoice always [v16]
- Pray continually. [v17]
- Give thanks in all circumstances. [v18]
- Do not put out the Holy Spirit’s fire. [v19]
- Don’t treat prophecies with contempt. [v20]
- Test everything. [v21]
- Hold on to what is good. [v21]
- Avoid every kind of evil. [v22]
Ok wow! Now that’ll keep me occupied until Jesus comes back!
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[a] 1 Thessalonians 2:16
[b] 1 Thessalonians 1:10