“Behold I am coming as a thief” – Jesus (Revelation 16:15)
Throughout the Bible, when we read of the second coming of Jesus, we often hear that He will be coming as a thief in the night. What does that mean?
We all know that thieves like to do their work in the night; it is so they can come unexpectedly. They want to find the owner of the house unprepared; then they can take what they want and escape uncaught.
The Lord isn’t coming, of course, to steal anything, but He is coming for His people. He also desires to come unexpectedly, but for the opposite reason. He desires to see a prepared people. He desires to catch His people faithfully at work, building His kingdom. It’s like an employer who drops in unexpectedly upon his employees. He hopes to find them faithfully working the business, keeping the owner’s interests in mind. Those that he finds working faithfully he will reward, but those who are lazy, or fooling around, are punished.
In the same way, when the Lord comes for His people, He will see those who have been faithful, working in His vineyard, and those who have pursued their own interests. Those faithful ones will be rewarded. Their reward will be that they will spared from the hour of trial that will come upon the whole earth. But those who have been unfaithful will be left to endure the fierceness of God’s wrath that is to come at the last time.
“Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.” – Jesus (Revelation 3:10)
This trial that will come upon the earth will be like nothing the earth has ever seen. It will be a time of great pain and darkness upon the earth. The book of Revelation outlines the judgements and plagues that will cover the earth at that time. It will be Hell on earth. And those times will be especially trying for Christians, who will be hunted and killed because of their faith. Those that miss Christ when the church is caught away will have to endure such suffering as has ever been seen. The Anti-Christ will force those on the earth worship him, and to receive a mark on the right hand or the forehead. Those who receive the mark will damn their eternal soul; those who don’t will not be able to buy or sell, unable to secure the basic necessities of life. If they are caught without the mark, they will be killed.
Those who wisely choose to follow Christ during this time will have great difficulty. They will hunger and thirst. They will live in constant fear for their lives. They will be forced from their homes into wilderness places. They will endure extreme weather. Many will be be betrayed by family members and put to death. There will be earthquakes and famines. There will be plagues and fierce wars. They will have no power over the Anti-Christ. He will overpower them and kill them. Yet, if they endure, they will certainly be saved.
But we can avoid those terrible times, if we take heed the words of our Lord Jesus Christ. We can be spared from that great hour of trial if we live a life of preparedness, always being ready for His coming.
Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming. – Jesus (Matthew 25:13)
To watch means to give strict attention to something, as though it was of utmost importance. The watchmen worked late hours on the walls of the ancient cities; they were entrusted to diligently watch for signs of approaching armies. It wasn’t often that armies would approach, but it only took one army to destroy the city. It could be months and years before they would see anything. But, even if they had worked that same post for 40 years, they still had to be just as diligent as they had always been. They never knew when the enemy may come.
The same is true with our Lord Jesus. We don’t know when He is coming back, but one day He will surely come back. It will be at an hour that we don’t expect. It will be suddenly. There will be no phone call to let us know He is coming. There will be no notification. He will simply appear, whether we are ready or not. The only solution for us is to live ready–every. single. day.
But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. – Jesus (Matthew 24:43-44)
Now, the good news is (if you are reading this before Jesus has come) that it’s not too late to get prepared. Being prepared does not mean an accumulation of spiritual merit badges, but a state of heart. God is very merciful. If you will, this day, forsake your past, He will forget it. Repent, and He will forgive you, and He won’t hold your past against you. Secure within yourself a heart that is truly submitted to God in every way, and you will possess the necessary preparations for Jesus’ return. Renew your commitment to God on a daily basis, praying constantly, “Not my will, but yours be done; may I be an obedient servant today.” This is a heart that that is prepared for Christ’s return.
Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left. – Jesus (Matthew 24:40-41)
However, if you happened to be caught unprepared, and have been left behind, listen carefully: God is still merciful, and your soul can still be saved; but the times ahead are going to be very difficult. Decide now that you will starve, thirst, and die for your faith, for that is what it will most likely come to. Times will be more difficult then they have ever been, but if you persevere to the end, you will be saved.
And here is the promise that God has for those who endure the harshness of the Great Tribulation, who don’t give up, and who persevere through it til the end:
They shall neither hunger anymore nor thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any heat; for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. – Revelation 7:16-17
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