“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” is how Dickens began his novel, A Tale Of Two Cities, detailing the days of the French Revolution.
The Bible consistently calls the times in which we live “the last days.” From the moment Christ completed His work of redemption until He comes again, we stand on tiptoes, peering ahead to that parade of angel armies. The “last days” refers to this entire New Testament age in which we live.
In our sermon series on 1 Thessalonians we have seen how God’s word produces a model congregation, a model ministry, model faithfulness, model lives and model hope. We conclude with model vigilance or watchfulness.
”Let us remain alert and sober,” says Paul. Our Lord does not want us to be naïve about how bad things will get. Jesus warned us that “the love of many will grow cold,” that there will be false prophets and unrestrained immorality on every side. In many ways it is the worst of times.
But in another way, as the baptized children of God, we may say with confidence and buoyant optimism that it is the best of times. We stand on the threshold of a new, eternal day, safe in the hand of Him who “died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with Him.”
For unrepentant prodigals who have accommodated themselves to conditions in the pig sty of their own rebellion, living their lives with a fist in God’s face, the bell is ready to toll the dark and deadly midnight hour.
But for sons and daughters of the King, for weary workers in Christ’s vineyard, for soldiers of the cross whose brows are creased with years of struggle with sin around them and within them, it is the best of times. The night is nearly over. It is only a minute to morning. The rosy fingers of dawn caress the hills up ahead. There is a spring thaw in the air. The winter of our sins – and yes, death itself – is working backward. Our redemption is drawing near. Faith pays attention to all this, is ever vigilant and watchful. For the best is yet to be.