The Day of the Lord-Pt.2
February 9th, 1958 @ 10:50 AM
THE DAY OF THE LORD
Dr. W. A. Criswell
1 Thessalonians 5:1
2-9-58 10:50 a.m.
You are listening to the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. This is the pastor bringing the 11 o’clock morning message entitled The Day of the Lord. I could so earnestly wish that all of our people who listen now could have listened to the first part of the sermon last Sunday night. It is not possible for me to encompass in one message this subject, so it was divided into two parts; last Sunday night, The Day of the Lord, and then this Sunday morning.
The day of the Lord plunges us immediately into a vast literature. The Old Testament is filled with it. The prophets stood, and as they could see under the unction and direction of the Holy Spirit, they revealed great epochs in the destiny of the race of mankind. And they had a phrase by which they referred to the day of judgment, the day of the wrath of God, the day of visitation from heaven, the perdition and damnation of an ungodly earth, and they called it the day of the Lord.
There is no place in the Old Testament, nor in the New Testament, where that phrase refers to any other thing but the day of tribulation, the day of wrath, the day of visitation, the day of judgment of Almighty God, the day of the Lord [Romans 2:5]. You read in your Scripture reading this morning, in the sixth chapter of the Revelation, a portrayal of the beginning of that final and terrible day, the great men of the earth and the bondmen, from the slave to the king, crying for the rocks and the mountains to hide them from the wrath of the Lamb, “For the great day of His wrath is come, the day of the Lord; and who shall be able to stand”? [Revelation 6:15-17].
But I have not the beginning of time even to review last Sunday evening’s sermon. We begin this day, this hour, with the finishing of that message. We have come in our preaching through the Bible to the fifth chapter of the first Thessalonian letter. And Paul, having told here in the fourth chapter of the day of Christ, the day of the gathering of God’s children home, the day of the resurrection of the Lord’s people, they who sleep in Jesus—having described the translation of the saints of God who abide and remain unto the coming of the Lord for His saints [1 Thessalonians 4:14-17]; then in the fifth chapter he speaks of the time of that coming, the relation of the day of the Lord to the day of Christ, to the taking away of His people. And he says:
But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you—
He had already told them about it—
For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.
For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.
But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.
Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.
Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night.
But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for a helmet, the hope of salvation.
For God hath not appointed us to wrath—
to that day of the Lord—
but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ—
to the day of Jesus.
He who died for us, that, whether we wake—
whether we are translated, whether we abide and remain unto His coming—
whether we are in the heart of the earth—
in our bodies, we should live together with Him.
Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another—
speak of it—
even as also ye do.
[1 Thessalonians 5:1-11]
When our Lord began His public ministry, He was baptized in the Jordan River [Luke 3:21-22]. And according to the story of our Master—by Luke—baptized of the Holy Spirit [Luke 3:22], baptized in water [Luke 3:21], tempted of the devil [Luke 4:1-13], then straight to Nazareth—where He grew up—there He began His public ministry [Luke 4:16]. And the story is in the fourth chapter of the Gospel of Luke, that there was delivered into the hands of our Savior the roll of the prophet Isaiah. And He turned to the place in the roll where it read—now this is the beginning of the sixty-first chapter of Isaiah [Isaiah 61:1]—the Lord turned in the roll and read, “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me; because the Lord hath anointed Me to preach good tidings unto the meek; He hath sent Me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives…to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord. And He closed the book . . .” [Luke 4:16-20].
That’s what the Scriptures say—in the fourth chapter of Luke: “And He closed the book…” [Luke 4:20]. But when you come and open the book, and read where the Lord read, He closed the book in the middle of a sentence: “To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God” [Isaiah 61:2]. But He didn’t read that—in the middle of the verse, in the middle of a sentence, “To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord” [Luke 4:19]; that was His first ministry, His first coming. The Lord, in the days of His flesh, the Lord anointed Him “to preach good tidings… to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord” [Luke 4:18-19]. This is the day of grace. It is the day of opportunity. O come, come, come ye to the Lord! But, there is another part of that sentence: “. . . And the day of vengeance of our God” [Isaiah 61:2]. And the Lord did not read the whole sentence [Luke 4:19-20], because the other half of that sentence is to be fulfilled in its time, in the providence and in the counsel—in the day of visitation and judgment, the day of the Lord, “the day of the vengeance of our God” [Isaiah 61:2].
So as you read these Scriptures, you will find as there, all through it, those two looks, a backward one and a forward one, as the Lord’s table [Matthew 26:26-29, 1 Corinthians 11:23-26], eating and drinking, looking back to the day of the Lord’s goodness and kindness and mercy in dying for our sins according to the Scriptures [1 Corinthians 15:3]; then looking forward to eat and to drink until He come, the great day of the vengeance of our God [Isaiah 61:2].
Now as we pick up this Holy Book, and look at it, there’s no other faith, no other religion that has in it prophecy but this faith and this religion, the Judeo-Christian revelation. I think that is an obvious thing. How could a Buddhist prophesy when the Spirit of the Lord or the Spirit of prophecy is not upon him? How could a Moslem? How could a Zoroastrian? But the faith of the Lord God is the faith of the great Jehovah, who sees the end from the beginning [Isaiah 46:10]. And things that happen today were prophesied thousands of years ago. And the denouement of all time is ever before the Lord, and He sees it, syllable by syllable, phrase and letter by phrase and letter.
So when I pick up this Holy Book I read there, through the thousands of years, the great prophecies of God fulfilled in their times. Like the first coming of our Lord in Genesis: that He should be born of a woman, a virgin born [Genesis 3:15]; in Genesis, that He should be of the seed of Abraham [Genesis 22:18]; in Genesis, that He should be born to the fourth child of Jacob, Judah [Genesis 49:10]; in the Book of Samuel, that He should be born of the lineage and of the house of David [2 Samuel 7:12-16]; in Zechariah, that He should present Himself as the King to Israel, lowly and riding on the foal of an ass [Zechariah 9:9]; in the twenty-second Psalm, that He should die on the cross, forsaken: “My God, My God” [Psalm 22:1]: in the sixteenth Psalm, that He should be raised from the dead: “Thou will not suffer Thy Holy One to see corruption” [Psalm 16:10]; in the one-hundred tenth Psalm, that He should be our great High Priest: after the order of Melchizedek [Psalm 110:4], interceding in heaven. Even the place where He was born was prophesied seven hundred fifty years before His day [Micah 5:2]; in Isaiah [Isaiah 9:6] that He should be deity Himself, and His name shall be called Everlasting Father, the Mighty God. All of those things—these I have mentioned are just a few—all of these things were fulfilled to the jot, to the tittle, to the letter, according to the word of the prophet of God.
Now when I turn to the same Scriptures, these that I hold in my hand, I read here in these same Scriptures other and great prophecies. And as I have assurance that the prophet spake by the Spirit of God [2 Peter 1:20-21] and, hundreds of years and thousands of years in some instances, pointed to the first great appearing of our Lord [Luke 24:27], and according to the Word of God they came to pass.
So when I hold the Book in my hand and read of the prophecies concerning the great second appearing of the Lord [Hebrews 9:28], I can have the same assurance that the word and the prophecy of God shall never fall or falter or fail. For example, in the seventh chapter of the Book of Daniel:
And I saw in the night . . . and, behold, One like the Son of Man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him.
And there was given to Him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve Him: His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.
I have every cause and reason to look forward to the glorious fulfilling of the word of the Lord. Then again, in the prophet Zechariah, who prophesied of His coming, lowly, riding upon the foal of an ass [Zechariah 9:9]: “In that day I will pour out upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem . . .” [Zechariah 12:10]. Evidently they’re going to be there. I spent half a day this week with a theological professor, and I said to him, “Does it mean nothing to you, nothing to you that the Hivites, and Girgashites, and the Jebusites, and the Hittites, and the Edomites, and the Ammonites, and the Moabites, and the Canaanites [Joshua 3:10]—all the other “-ites”—they are gone from the earth, and no man ever saw anyone who ever saw anyone, who ever saw anyone, who ever saw one? But the Israelite is still here, according to the saying of the man of God. Does that mean nothing to you?”
“Nothing at all,” he says, “Nothing at all!”
I said, “Does it mean anything to you that the prophets say, the prophets say, they say, and they say, and they repeat that Israel will go back to Palestine, some of them before they are converted and someday after they are converted—all Israel will be in Palestine? [Zechariah 10:9-12]. Does that mean anything to you?”
“Nothing at all. Nothing at all,” he said.
I said, “Does it mean anything to you that for a thousand five hundred years there were no Jews in Palestine, none at all? It was a wasted and forsaken land, but according to the saying of God and the prophecies who spake of it, and spake of it, and spake of it: ‘They shall go back to their land!’” [Isaiah 43:5-7]. I said, “Is it nothing to you that today, you see Israel turning their faces toward the Holy Land? Is that nothing to you?”
“Nothing at all,” he said. “Nothing at all—absolutely meaningless!”
I thought, well, I’m looking at a prophecy of God itself. In the third chapter of 2 Peter, it said: “There shall come in the last times scoffers… saying, Where is the promise of His coming? for since the beginning everything continues as they are” [2 Peter 3:3-4].
And he says: “I don’t see any signs!” And he doesn’t know it, but he’s a sign himself!
I will pour out upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, there, the Spirit of grace and supplications: and they shall look upon Me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for Him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for Him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.
And in that day there shall be a great mourning in Jerusalem…
There shall be a mourning in every family apart…
And in that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness.
The Book says that some of these days, in this great and final denouement, that the Lord Jesus—like He appeared to James, His brother [1 Corinthians 15:7]; and like He appeared to the apostle Paul, who was then Saul of Tarsus [Acts 13:9], and he was converted [Acts 9:1-18]. And Paul referred to himself as being one being lost out of due time—that is before the time, he was an abortion—the time hadn’t come. “But the Lord appeared to him, as one born before the time” [1 Corinthians 15:8]. “There shall be an appearing of the Lord to His people, and they shall look upon Him whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for Him, as one that mourneth for his only son” [Zechariah 12:10]; and, “they shall say to Him,” according to that same prophecy: ‘Whence came these scars in Your hands?’ And He shall say: ‘In the house of My friends’”—by My very own—”‘was I pierced’” [Zechariah 13:6]. A fountain opened and [Zechariah 13:1], ah (the Word of the Lord): “And His feet shall stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the Mount of Olives shall cleave … and a great valley in between” [Zechariah 14:4]. And it continues—”It will be light in that day” [Zechariah 14:7]. In the evening it shall be light, and it shall be in that day, living waters going out from Jerusalem; half to the former sea, half to the hinder sea… “And the Lord shall be King over all the earth” [Zechariah 14:8-9].
Why can I not believe in the prophecy when that same prophet Zechariah, along with his other prophets, spake of the coming of our Lord as a humble One [Zechariah 9:9], as a Lamb of God [Isaiah 53:7, 10], as a sheep brought to the slaughter [Isaiah 53:7], pouring out His life for the cleansing of those who trust in Him? [Zechariah 13:1]. That same prophet lifts up his voice again and says: “And some of these days…” And he repeats these great prophecies of the denouement of the age: “And the Lord the King of all of the earth” [Zechariah 14:9]. Nor are they isolated—repeated!
“Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing in up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go…” [Acts 1:11]. And one of a multitude of others: “Behold, He cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see Him, and they also which pierced Him” [Revelation 1:7]. His own people who slew Him; “He came unto His own, and His own received Him not” [John 1:11].
“Behold,” Revelation 1:7, “He cometh with clouds,” the shekinah glory of the Lord; “and every eye shall see Him, and they also which pierced Him,” and this world, lost and rejecting Christ, “and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him”; the beginning of the great day of the Lord.
Now, we must hasten. In this fifth chapter of the Book of Thessalonians, Paul is speaking of the time of that [1 Thessalonians 5:1-9]. You just can’t read these prophecies and not ask the question: “When? When are these things to come to pass?” Same as with the disciples when they heard Jesus speak of these last eschatological things—and when He was with them on the Mount of Olives, they asked Him, saying: “Lord, when? When?” [Matthew 24:3]. You can’t escape it—not if you are normal; and not if you are a Christian and interested: “When these things?”
So Paul attempts to answer that question: “But of the times and the seasons, brethren… ye yourselves know” [1 Thessalonians 5:1-2]. Now look what he says: “That they know.” By the way, that word “time” means time, the time of it. The Greek word is chronos, a chronometer is a measure of time. A chronoscope is a little, fine, precision instrument measuring intervals of time; chronology, or the things that happen in history, in time. “But of the time” [1 Thessalonians 5:1], the chronos . . . What of the time? Is it possible to know?
All right, Paul has two answers: first, for the unconverted, for the unsaved, for the lost—they do not know. It is hidden from them. They belong to the children of darkness, and they belong to the children of the night [1 Thessalonians 5:2-3]. “But of the times and the seasons, brethren,” you do not need for me to repeat what I have already told you. “For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord cometh as a thief in the night. When they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape” [1 Thessalonians 5:2-3].
Of that day and of that hour, for the lost world, they do not know. It is darkness to them and it is hidden away from them [1 Thessalonians 5:3]. And he says two or three things here about it: one, that it shall come upon them without premonition, without preliminary, without sign, without program. It shall come suddenly, and immediately, and catastrophically, and finally, and terribly—this great final day of the Lord! [1 Thessalonians 5:2-3]. He says many things about that. For example, He will say, “It is like the five virgins who were foolish. The five who were wise entered into the kingdom of God, but the five who were foolish were left outside. The bridegroom came suddenly, and that the door was shut just like that” [Matthew 25:1-13]. They do not know. They are unprepared. They are not ready.
He tells a parable of the wicked steward. Because the master of the house delayed his coming, he began to be wanton, and drunken, and to beat his fellow servants [Luke 12:45]. In how many instances does the Lord illustrate that? To them it comes as a thief in the night, the image there is of the dawn overtaking them [1 Thessalonians 5:3]. Many of these old manuscripts it’s plural there, they are thieves in the night—the dawn suddenly coming and overtaking them—the world unprepared!
Look again what he says: “And when they shall say, Peace and safety . . .” [1 Thessalonians 5:3]. This great and final day of the Lord is going to come at a time when the nations say, “We have our protocols. We have our instruments of peace. We have the signatures on these documents. Here is a non-aggression pact. Here is the treaty of friendship. Here is a reciprocal trade agreement”—peace and safety.
Isn’t that the funniest thing you ever saw in the development of time? The more United Nations we have, and the more treaties we have, and the more amalgamations we have, the more we strive and prepare for the final, great holocaust. Isn’t that a funny thing? Isn’t that a strange thing, when they shall say “peace and safety. Look at this organization. Look at this great community of nations. Look at this great stockpile of defense. Look at all of this: ‘Peace and safety!’”
An identical thing with the Titanic; they were riding on the bosom of the deep, from Liverpool to New York City, in the unsinkable Titanic; the unsinkable Titanic! One moment it was unsinkable, and the next moment it was foundering and diving and sinking to the bottom of the North Atlantic ocean. That’s the way the Lord illustrated, “[In the] last time it shall be,” He said, “as it was in the days of Noah”—laughing, and drinking, and carrying on in a gay and happy mood—”peace and safety.” And then the Flood came [Luke 17:26-27]. “And it shall be,” He says, “as it was on the days of Lot”—marrying, giving in marriage, carrying on in a great hilarious time until the fire fell and the brimstone from heaven [Luke 17:28-29]. So it is, He says, in this great day of the Lord [Luke 17:30], when they shall say “peace and safety [1 Thessalonians 5:3]. We’ve got it. Look at the signature. Look at the national commitments. Look! It is peace for our time and our day.” Then that awful travail comes, as a woman with child, and they shall not escape [1 Thessalonians 5:3].
I think of the beginning of that sixth chapter of the Revelation; first the white horse, the white horse, the white horse, the great representative and champion of the people—peace and safety, the white horse—oh, my soul, after him, the red horse of war, and the black horse of famine, and the pale horse of death! [Revelation 6:2-8]. The day of the Lord; if I had about an hour or two, we’d just stop and look at that awful thing of peace and safety, and then sudden death! I can’t take time for it. I just don’t know of a better illustration of it than in our day right now.
In California yesterday there was the mournfulest, longest wail at eleven o’clock sharp. Well, I listened to it for five minutes; I listened to it for ten minutes; finally my curiosity got the better of me. I said: “What in the world is that wailing?” And the answer was, “Once a month, on that day”—whatever yesterday was—”once a month, on that day, at eleven o’clock sharp, we have the blowing of the air-siren, the air-alarm, the air-raid. And it is to acquaint the people with it, acquaint the people with it.” Today, beautiful sign in the sunrise: maybe not a cloud in the sky—peace and safety [1 Thessalonians 5:3], then, out of the sky, the blood, and the fire, and the wrath, and the judgment of some Armageddon! I’m not saying that’s it, I don’t think it is. I’m just illustrating it by it. And I said: “Why in the world do you have that out here? We don’t have it in Dallas.” That is the mournfulest sound, in that city it was—the pleading of that air-raid warning. Fifteen minutes of it! I said, “Why it’s enough to drive a man mad!” Well, they said, “Out here on this West Coast, everywhere, it’s that way, getting ready, getting more ready!”
Ah, these things! When they shall say “peace and safety” [1 Thessalonians 5:3], then—and in the Greek language I wish you could see that sentence; aiphnidios, that’s the word that is emphatic. You know, the Greek can take his words and stick them anywhere. And when he wants to make it real emphatic, he puts it first; aiphnidios, “suddenly,” like out of blue of the sky!
That’s for the lost world. That’s for the unconverted. They don’t know. It comes suddenly, unexpectedly, without warning! But, now I’m just preaching the Word of the Lord. I’m not saying a thing of my own here. Now you listen to what God said. But, he has just described how it will be for the lost; unprepared, left in blood and in war! And that’s why I’d like to have an hour this morning to say what that Book says of the preparation of the nations for war, for war, for war! [1 Thessalonians 5:2-3].
But, but in the next verse there, the fourth verse: “But ye, brethren—ye who are saved—you are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, we are not of darkness” [1 Thessalonians 5:4-5]. That is, that day, when it comes, will not surprise us. We’re not going to be taken aback. We’re not going to be lost. We’re not going to be left in the world that runs rivers of blood. Not we! But ye, brethren, “ye are not appointed unto wrath” [1 Thessalonians 5:9]. We’re not of that day of darkness, that it should overtake us as a thief in the night. We’re not of that age; we’re not of that dispensation; we’re not of that judgment; we’re not of that time; we’re not of that hour.
We are of the light; we are of the day [1 Thessalonians 5:4-5]. We are looking. Our faces are raised upward where our Lord is in heaven [1 Thessalonians 5:6]. And we are not of that awful hour of darkness and damnation, that it should overtake us as a thief in the night [1 Thessalonians 5:4].
May I parenthesize here a minute? You know, I just—in order to show you that these things are—I so many times have to bite my tongue to keep from calling names. If I would just turn loose, I would like to name for you some tremendously great nationals and international preachers, especially of Manhattan Island, who stood up to preach in the days of my youth. And oh, what glamorous days lay immediately ahead! And their sermons—I went up there to listen to them in New York. I stood at their feet. I listened to them. Oh, what things did they preach! And they preached about all of the glories of the immediate future. Everything was just working out according to the fine genius of man and of science and of government. And everything was rosy, and the millennium was right there—if we were not already in it. These preachers preaching that!
And in the midst of their preaching, there came upon this world the awful bloodbath! Out of the sky there rained bombs and fury, and Hitler’s hordes to the east; and then wheeled around to the west, and we found ourselves enmeshed in that awful and terrible conflict. Well, to a man like that, those terrible hours sweep them off of their feet. They’re just lost. The greatest preacher of their kind quit preaching. He just quit his pulpit, and gave it over to somebody else, and stopped.
You’re not that way. Not you, because you have already been told that there lies ahead tribulation; there lies ahead blood; there lies ahead the great day of the wrath and the judgment of Almighty God! These days in the past are just patterns. They’re just types. They’re just pictures of that great and final Armageddon [Revelation 16:13-16]. And when these awful days come and tragedy strikes, you’re not of the night, as that that day should take you unaware and surprise [1 Thessalonians 5:4-5]. Why, God’s Word says as long as there is a tooth that can be bared to bite, as long as there is a fist that can be doubled to fight, as long as there is the beast and the ape and the tiger in humanity, it will be the story of blood and war and destruction!
You may say, “Oh, dear, sweet Kruschev; he’s over there in the Kremlin planning nice things for us. And we’re gonna have peace, and we’re gonna all dwell under each his own vine and his own fig tree; and we’re all going to have two Cadillacs in every garage. We’re all going to live in forty-room mansions, and we’re all gonna have great bank accounts. And all we’ve got to do is to eat, drink, and be merry, for peace and safety is our lot in life.” And just about the time you think you’ve got it ,out of the sky and out of the Kremlin and out of the dark unconverted hearts of men, there come these manifestations of the fountain of depravity and iniquity, rising to point out once more that mankind is a fallen race. As long as Satan is out of the pit and as long as he rules in this earth, his instruments are darkness, and blood, and horror, and death. “You are not of the night, as if that day should overtake you unaware” [1 Thessalonians 5:4-5].
“When these things come to pass,” said Jesus, “look up, lift up your heads; for your redemption draws nigh” [Luke 21:28]. It will not be long, it will not be long; for the elect’s sake, those days are shortened [Matthew 24:22]. Therefore, now look. Don’t ever get the persuasion that the things that are written in the books of prophecy—like this passage that I’m reading now from Paul—don’t ever think they’re written just for our curiosity. No! Not that we might just be curious and find things, no! These great revelations are made that we might be children of God.
“Therefore,” therefore—that’s the sixth verse—”therefore…” he says all of these things—the only reason they’re written in the Book is for our admonition, that we might be great and true and wonderful servants of Jesus. “Therefore…” Now this is it—look what he says: one, two, three, four—he makes four appeals there: “Therefore let us not sleep, as others do; but let us watch and be sober. For they that sleep, sleep in the night; and they that are drunken are drunken in the night” [1 Thessalonians 5:6-7]—in view of the great and final coming of the Lord and the denouement of this age, in view of that, don’t let us be drunken, drunken with anything; the glamour and the pleasures and the enticements of the world, let us not be drunken. Let us not sleep, as they do in the night [1 Thessalonians 5:6]. Let us… be sober [1 Thessalonians 5:6]—looking up to God. Now look at the [eighth] verse: “Let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith (and hope) and love” [1 Thessalonians 5:8]. How many times did he mention that in the first chapter [1 Thessalonians 1:3]; and he mentioned it in the thirteenth chapter of 1 Corinthians. “Faith, hope, and love” [1 Corinthians 13:13]; these are the graces that God has bestowed upon us. Then another one: “For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, Who died for us, that, whether we wake or whether we sleep, we should live together with Him” [1 Thessalonians 5:9-10].
You don’t have anything to be afraid of. Not you! Not you! When I was a little boy, I had a terrible dream. I dreamed the great last day had come, and the whole world was before the judgment seat of God. And I was there and I was lost. And I was lost! And I was being sent away into eternal perdition and damnation. I was just a little fellow; and I awoke and was crying in fear; and I ran to mother and daddy in their bedroom. And mother said: “Why, son?” And I told her, and she said: “Come, my son.” I laid down by her, and she quieted me. And soon after that, I found the Lord. Now, I don’t ever need to be afraid; never!
Jesus died for us that, whether we wake—that is, whether we are alive at His coming and are translated, or whether we sleep, whether our bodies are buried in the earth—we should live together with Him [ Thessalonians 4:15-17]. All the wrath and judgment of God, and the day of the Lord, and the tribulation, it will never touch God’s people [1 Thessalonians 5:9-10]. They will be with the Lord. The first thing is, He will take to Himself His own.
Then his last appeal: “Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do” [1 Thessalonians 5:11]. Lift up your heart, my brother! Lift up your face, my sister! Be of good courage, my yokefellow! It’s all in God’s hands. And if the storm comes, ye rise above it. And if death comes—and oh, how it comes—He is the Lord of life [John 10:28]. “Whether we wake,” whether we’re here, “or whether we sleep,” we fall before He comes, “we shall live together with Him” [1 Thessalonians 5:10].
My friends, all of it just means this. If I have Jesus, I have a hope; I have a destiny, a life, a day, a glory! If I have not Jesus, I am lost. It is nothing but the night and the dark and the doom. Oh, how could a man say, “I had rather die. I’d rather be lost. I’d rather be in hell. I’d rather be dammed. I’d rather spend eternity in suffering and agony. I’d rather be shut out with the door closed. I’d rather be sent away. I’d rather be lost than to open my heart to the saving grace of Jesus, and my name be written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, and whether I die or whether I sleep, to live together with Him.” How could a man say no? “No, no, preacher. No, no!”
Oh, may the Spirit of grace, and it must come from Him, may the Spirit of grace open your hearts to the Word of the Lord. “Today, I take Him as my Savior.” May be a poor taking; it may be a feeble reaching, but, “Such as I can I do today, I take the Lord as my own. I trust in Him. Here I come, preacher, and here I am. I give you my hand. My heart, I give in trust to God. Here I come.” Would you? In this great host in the balcony, these front stairwells or those back stairwells, down these stairwells and here to the front, “Here I come, pastor. Today I take Jesus as my Savior.” In this lower floor, a throng of people, somebody you, “Today, this day I hide myself in the Lord.”
He hideth my soul in the clefts of the rock
That shadows a dry, thirsty land.
He hideth my soul in the depths of His love,
And covers me there with His hand.
[Fanny J. Crosby, “He Hideth My Soul”]
In the great day of the Lord—and someday it will surely come—in that day, He hideth my soul with His hand. Under the shadow of the Almighty, would you come trusting Jesus, giving your life in faith to Jesus? [Ephesians 2:8-9]. Or somebody you, a family, putting your life in the church, while we sing, while we make appeal, would you come; would you make it now? While we stand and while we sing.