Motivated by Hope

Error message

  • Deprecated function: unserialize(): Passing null to parameter #1 ($data) of type string is deprecated in css_injector_init() (line 53 of /home/krwester/
  • Deprecated function: unserialize(): Passing null to parameter #1 ($data) of type string is deprecated in css_injector_init() (line 53 of /home/krwester/
( 1 Thessalonians 4, Luke 12)
Lesson Number: 

Lesson 7

Motivated by Hope

(1 Thessalonians 4, Luke 12)

Copr. 2024, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. If you normally receive this lesson by e-mail, but it is lost one week, you can find it by clicking on this link: Pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit as you study.

Introduction: This past we had graduation ceremonies at Regent University School of Law. One of the things I love about working with young people is the hope they have about the future. The future also creates uncertainty. What if things go wrong? They face the challenges of passing the bar exam and obtaining a job that fits their goals. As Christians, our ultimate hope is in the Second Coming of Jesus. What would you say about a group of Christians who were serious students of the Bible, and who interpreted prophecy to indicate that Jesus was coming again at a certain time? They had hope, but Jesus did not come. Where does misplaced hope fit into the controversy between good and evil? Let’s dive into our study of the Bible to discover what lessons God has for us!

  1. The Promise of Return
    1. Read 1 Thessalonians 4:13. What is the “hope” issue for the readers of this text? (Hope of life after death. Death is not the end for Christians. We need not grieve over the death of friends and family because we have hope.)
    2. Read 1 Thessalonians 4:14-15. What question is implied in this answer? (The readers believe that Jesus will come within their lifetime, and they question whether they must be alive to be taken up to heaven when Jesus returns.)
      1. What is the answer to that question? (Those who are alive will not arrive in heaven before those Christians who have died.)
      2. Would a person ask this question if the righteous go to heaven at death?
    3. Read 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17. What happens at the Second Coming of Jesus? (The dead in Christ rise first from the ground, and then those alive will join them “in the clouds” to meet Jesus. We will forever live with Jesus.)
      1. Describe what those alive when Jesus comes will see? (They will see formerly dead people coming out of the ground! Wow!)
    4. Read 1 Thessalonians 4:18. What should be our attitude about this? (This gives us hope!)
      1. When will this hope be realized?
  2. The Timing of the Return
    1. Look again at 1 Thessalonians 4:17. Why does Paul, the writer of this letter to the Thessalonians, write “we,” as apposed to “those,” “who are alive ... will be caught up?” (Paul believes that he will be alive when Jesus comes.)
      1. How common is this - that Christians believe that they will be alive when Jesus returns? (My observation is that it is very common.)
    2. Are you familiar with the dream of Daniel 2? If not, take a few minutes to read it. God gave King Nebuchadnezzar a dream which Daniel interpreted. This vision correctly predicted the future of world right through to the time of Jesus’ Second Coming. What does that suggest about the other interpreted prophecies in the book of Daniel?
    3. Read Daniel 8:13-14. In David Guzik’s commentary on this prophecy he notes that William Miller inspired a large number of Christians to believe that Jesus would return in 1844. Miller arrived at that date because it was 2,300 years after “Cyrus issued the decree to rebuild the temple.” How could Miller believe that this prophecy extended to modern times since it refers to days (“evenings and mornings)? (Miller believed something that Guzik rejects, that the days were symbolic of years.)
    4. Read Daniel 8:27. We have skipped over most of the vision given to Daniel. Did he understand it? (No. He was sick that he did not understand.)
    5. Read Daniel 9:21-23. How does Daniel’s situation change? (Gabriel comes from heaven to explain the prophetic vision to him.)
    6. Read Daniel 9:24-27. We are not going to do a deep dive into Gabriel’s explanation. Instead, I will tell you that there was widespread agreement among Christian scholars two hundred years ago (and even now) that this time line (using the day = year principle) accurately predicted the time of Jesus’ first coming (“the coming of the anointed one”), the time of His crucifixion (“anointed one shall be cut off”) and the destruction of the second temple in 70 AD (“destroy the city and the sanctuary.”).)
      1. What does this teach us about those (like Guzik) who reject the day = year principle for prophetic interpretation? (Since that principle accurately predicted Jesus’ first coming, rejecting it creates a serious logical problem for those who accept Jesus as the Messiah.)
    7. Re-read Daniel 8:14 and 2 Peter 3:5-7. In the ESV the sanctuary of Daniel 8:14 is “restored to its rightful state” and in the KJV (and others) it is “cleansed.” The general idea among the various translations is that the sanctuary will be purified. What does Peter say will happen to the earth in the final judgment? (The wicked will be destroyed by fire. The earth will be cleaned of them.)
    8. Let’s discuss this. Christians still understand the prophecies of Daniel 8 and 9 to be accurate with regard to the history of the world, the coming of Jesus, His tenure on earth, and the destruction of Jerusalem. Many did not accept William Miller’s continuation of the 2,300 day prophecy to end in 1844. Of course, we now know that Miller was wrong. I’ve studied Miller’s interpretation and were I alive during his time I would agree with him - except for his prediction of an exact time. See Matthew 24:36. How should we look at this failed interpretation?
      1. Should we believe the prophecy given to Daniel is wrong or the Bible unreliable?
      2. If we accept the prophecy as accurate and the Bible reliable, what should we conclude? (Human error is responsible.)
    9. Read Matthew 24:30 and Matthew 24:32-35. If you were listening to Jesus, when would you think He would return? (During “this generation,” meaning during my lifetime.)
      1. Notice the certificate of accuracy that Jesus places on His words in verse 35. What should we conclude about that? (The only reasonable conclusion for a Christian who believes in the Bible is that we need to be very careful about understanding prophecy.
  1. The Great Controversy and Misunderstood Prophecy.
    1. Who wins when followers of Jesus misunderstand prophecy?
      1. Is there any upside to an interpretation of prophecy that ultimately fails? (I think there is. First, you interest people in the Bible who might otherwise ignore it. Second, one reasonable reaction to a misunderstanding is that you would study the Bible even more diligently to try to get it right the second time.)
      2. You may recall that I recently bitterly complained about Christians who attack fellow Christians. The attack arises because they believe fellow Christians will at some future point limit their religious liberty. What should the Jewish failure to understand the prophecies predicting Jesus’ first coming and Miller’s failure to understand the prophecy about Jesus’ second coming teach us? (A little humility.)
    2. Read Luke 12:35-37. What is this parable about? (Being ready for Jesus’ return.)
    3. Read Luke 12:38-40. Does it seem to you that Jesus thought His followers would have a prophetic time line predicting when He would return? (Just the opposite! Jesus says (and this is a prophecy) that He will come at a time we do not expect. Be ready at all times.)
      1. Does that mean it is “fool’s errand” to try to puzzle out end-time prophecies?
      2. If you answered, “yes,” why did God give the prophecies to us? (I see a tension in this. Fulfilled prophecy gives us confidence in the Bible and the power of God. Understanding unfulfilled prophecy requires true humility.)
    4. Friend we have hope! Jesus promises us life after death. He will return and take His faithful followers back to heaven to be with Him forever! Are you ready? Will you accept Jesus right now so that you will live forever with Him?
  2. Next week: Light From the Sanctuary.