Sudden destruction is a possibility in everyone’s life. Sudden destruction isn’t necessarily a punishment for disobeying an abusive leader or being’ bad.’ King Solomon said; “. . . for time and chance overtake them all. Moreover, no one knows when their hour will come: As fish are caught in a cruel net, or birds are taken in a snare, so people are trapped by evil times that fall unexpectedly upon them.” (Ecclesiastes 9:11,12) Sudden destruction is this broken world’s terrible lottery.
What does the Bible say about ‘sudden destruction’? Paul tells the Thessalonians; “But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, ‘Peace and safety!’ then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape.” (1 Thessalonians 5:1-3) This is a dire prediction but Paul being a true preacher isn’t saying do what I say or you’ll be destroyed. Paul is talking about the return of Jesus – ‘the day of the Lord’.
As any good preacher would, Paul teaches his people how to prepare for this ‘unexpected’ event by staying faithful to Jesus; “But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober.” (1 Thessalonians 5:4-6) Paul isn’t calling for blind obedience to him rather he exhorts his flock to be watchful and sober. Paul draws his flock together; “But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. . . . Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.” (v. 8,11) Like the true shepherd Paul was he encouraged rather than harassed his people. He built up rather than tore apart his church.
Jesus exhorted people to not blame the victim of sudden destruction rather be ready by being right with God. He used a well-known tragedy of the time as a case in point; “No, I tell you. But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who were killed when the tower of Siloam collapsed on them: Do you think that they were more sinful than all the others living in Jerusalem?” (Luke 13:3,4)
Paul knew and accepted the ‘bottom line’ as far as God was concerned; “For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him.” (1 Thessalonians 5:9,10) It wasn’t about Paul. It isn’t about any preacher. It isn’t about ‘sudden destruction’. It’s all about God and Jesus and living His Way!