Paul continues his writing to the Thessalonians about the last days. He gives them a warning saying that there are those will be calling for, and predicting, peace and safety for people around the world. And yet, that is precisely the point at which the end will come and destruction will fall upon them.
Paul’s prophetic words, of course, echo back to the time of Babylon’s coming to Israel and the overthrow of Jerusalem. In that time, the king and the priests were falsely prophesying a time of peace for Jerusalem when, in fact, Babylon was coming soon to destroy Jerusalem. It was a false prophecy and declaration of peace, standing in direct contrast and contradicting the true prophecies of Jeremiah and Ezekiel:
“From the least to the greatest,Jeremiah 6:13-14
all are greedy for gain;
prophets and priests alike,
all practice deceit.
They dress the wound of my people
as though it were not serious.
‘Peace, peace,’ they say,
when there is no peace.
In the same way, Paul says that, in the end times, there will be people who will be calling for “Peace and safety” for the people, when in fact, destruction is at the door. People will have been deliberately living against the ways of God, living contrary to whom he has called us to be, and storing up God’s wrath for themselves, all the while saying that we should expect and have peace. And yet, this is precisely the time that Jesus will come to bring judgement upon those who stand in opposition to him.
Now, brothers and sisters, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.1 Thessalonians 5:1-3
As people, we are very easily dulled and lulled to sleep in the midst of our own daily lives. We become busy. We become engrossed in the things that we consider to be important, in our own worries and daily concerns…so much that we forget the broader context of what is going on around us…so much that it becomes easy for us to accept what our culture is telling us, its version of reality.
And yet, this is precisely when God’s judgment will come. When we least expect it, Jesus will return like a thief in the night. To most of us, it will seem sudden because we weren’t watching. We weren’t waiting. We were caught up in our own worries, our own concerns, our own daily lives. And so, just at the moment that we think we should be achieving peace and safety, God’s judgment will come, and no one will escape it.