A THIEF IN THE NIGHT
You too, be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour that you do not expect.
(Luke 12:40, NASB)
The parables related by Messiah in regard to His Second Appearance have a central theme, namely, to be “alert” and “ready,” for, “the day will come as a thief in the night,” (Mat 25; Luke 12:35-49). In our previous blog, IT WILL BE NO SECRET, we established that the actual appearance of Messiah will not be a secret, nor will it be a quiet affair, for the coming of the Son of Man will be visible from one end of the sky to other, (Mat 24:23-31). We also established that “the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky,” and the heavens will indeed be shaken before His climactic appearance to usher in the Millennial Kingdom which will be announced by the archangel blowing the Last Trumpet, (Mat 24:29-30; Rev 11:15-18). [See also the breaking of the 6th and 7th Seals in the book of Revelation.]
The climactic Second Appearance of Messiah in Revelation 19 is clearly connected to “the war of the great day of God, the Almighty,” the Battle of Armageddon – the day when Messiah will make a footstool of all His enemies, (Rev 16:12-21; Rev 19:11-21). [See also Zeph 3:12-20; Zech 14; Ezek 39.] Not only will He defeat the nations who will then draw up for war against Messiah and Israel (Zeph 3:8-20; Joel 3), but He will also avenge the blood of every Believer who ever suffered for His Name’s sake, (Rev 18:20-24; Rev 19:2; Rev 16:3-7).
It is astonishing to see that it is exactly here, in relating the events accompanying this great war, and the climactic appearance of Messiah, that we find the following phrase in the book of Revelation, ‘Behold, I am coming like a thief. Blessed is the one who stays awake and keeps his garments, lest he walk about naked and men see his shame,’ (Rev 16:15). Reading this phrase in context, it becomes clear that “a thief in the night” cannot be connected to “a sudden secret appearance of Messiah to snatch away a section of His church”!
So what does the phrase “a thief in the night” mean? Messiah indicated that the Day of Lord will be compared to the generation who lived in Noah’s Day, and the generation who lived in the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, (Mat 24:32-41; Luke 17:26-36). One can by no means apply the typology of the days connected to these generations by only quoting the latter verses of these passages.
The prophets of old indicated that The Day of the Lord will be a day of vengeance and recompense, (Joel 2; Zeph 1:14-18; Zeph 2). A day of reckoning with the world (Rom 2:4-11), in the very same manner as God dealt with the unrighteous in the Day of Noah and the day of destroying Sodom and Gomorrah. The principle of The Day of the Lord is thus ‘a period,’ and not ‘a moment’ – a day of judging the earth in righteousness before establishing His Millennial Kingdom on earth. This time of judgment and wrath leading to great destruction is clearly evident in the breaking of the Seven Seals in the book of Revelation. [See also Hag 2:21-23 and Heb 12:25-29.]
Messiah, using the context of the generations who lived in Noah’s Day and Sodom’s destruction, explained that this ‘period’ will be a time of utter lawlessness, especially pertaining to sexual sins, but that people will be eating and drinking, and given in marriage; thus, life will continue as usual. Yet, a time of great testing (great tribulation) will suddenly come upon the earth, and the members of every household and every community will be tested and separated. One will be saved through the provision of “the Ark” (Jesus Christ’s atonement), and another will be left for the sudden destruction ushered in through the wrath of God – the flood of violent destruction, (2 Peter 3:1-13). [A final harvest at the threshing floor depicted by Messiah in Mat 13:24-30, 36-43 and by the prophet Malachi, Mal 3:16-18 & Mal 4:1-3.]
The apostle Paul explained, ‘For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. While they are saying, “Peace and safety!” then destruction will come upon them suddenly like birth pangs upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day should overtake you like a thief; you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness; so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober,’ (1 Thes 5:2-6).
The Scriptures were written in the context of a Jewish calendar, prompting us to use a Lunar calendar, and thus “a day” starts with “nightfall.” This DAY pertaining to the Second Appearance of Messiah will thus be ushered in by “night” first (John 9:4), for Messiah will judge the earth and execute God’s wrath on all unrighteousness and sin, and THEN “the Morning Star will rise,” and Messiah will appear to usher in the Kingdom on earth for the Millennial Rulership, (Rev 11:15-18; Rev 19). [See also Luke 12:38-40.]
Let us thus be alert! Let us, ‘Be dressed in readiness, and keep our lamps alight’ (Luke 12:35), so that we will not be of those who grow cold in our love for the Lord when persecution comes our way. Let us be ready to persevere to the end, in order not to lose our garment of righteousness (Rev 16:15; Rev 19:7-8), by falling away in denying our faith in Messiah, (Mat 24:9-13; Luke 12:35-49).