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    New CovenantMinistries
    Not for Me!

    A Brief Study On A
    Popular Endtime Misconception

    by the Word Weaver*

    Recently, a member of The E.D.G.E. Online Mailing List made the following comment:

    "I am not a theologian, but how do you square the verses in the Bible that tell us that we should be watchful for Christ's coming because it will be like a thief in the night? There is also a verse that mankind will not be looking at all for Christ at this moment; faith will be weak. Also there is another verse that when man cries "peace and security", when man least expects it, then Christ's returns."

    In attempting to answer this person's question, I feel that the best approach to take is to actually look at some of the verses which are commonly used to support this idea of 'a thief in the night' Second Coming. I must tell you though, that if you read the following verses with your human understanding, if you have already convinced yourself that we will be in the dark concerning Christ's Second Coming, then regardless of what I say, it won't make any difference. In order to give this a chance, you are going to have to relax, and clear your mind of any pre-conceived ideas you may currently hold. If you are willing to do that, and take an objective look at the following verses and my current understanding of them, then perhaps there is a chance I can convince you to see things in a new way. Let's begin with what Paul said to the disciples at Thessalonica:

    "But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape." (1 Thessalonians 5:1-3)

    I agree with the above verses completely. As I point out in several other articles, I believe that it is man IN GENERAL, those who have rejected The Truth, who will be in the dark concerning Christ's Second Coming, but not those of us who have discerned the signs of the times. We will be expecting His eminent Return. Consider what Jesus said to the UNBELIEVING Jews:

    "And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowring. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?" (Matthew 16:3)

    Let me explain to you what I believe Paul is really saying here. First he is telling the brethren, 'Look, I know I don't really need to be writing to you about these things, because I know that you already understand them.' But then, he goes into talking about someone else. Look at that word 'THEY.' Now he is talking about the non-believers, people of the world, people who will be living in the Endtime during the Apostasy. Is sudden destruction going to come upon us? Of course not! It will come upon the non-believers who will be eating and drinking and being given in marriage as in Noah's day, just as Jesus Himself prophesied:

    "But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be." (Matthew 24:37-39)

    In his remarks to the believing Thessalonians, Paul is clearly saying that it is upon THEM, the unbelievers, that destruction will come. It is to them that the day of the Lord will appear as a thief in the night. He is talking about two different classes of people here, believers and unbelievers. He is addressing his epistle to the believers at Thessalonica to tell them what will happen to the unbelievers. Read those first three verses slowly and you will see that this is so.

    Now take a look at what Paul said to the Thessalonians, those who do believe, in verse four. You can't make it any clearer than this:

    "But ye, brethren, are NOT in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief." (1 Thessalonians 5:4)

    It truly amazes me how some people are so quick to quote the first three verses about the day of the Lord arriving as a thief in the night, but then they completely ignore or disregard verse four which contradicts what they are saying. Paul is saying that we the believers are NOT in darkness! We know...or we will know. The reason some Christian folks ignore verse four is because it shows that they are wrong in their interpretation. So then, verses one through three are for THEM, the unbelievers who will be caught by surprise, and verse four is for US, those who will be watching and waiting patiently while we continue to do our work for the Lord. As a matter of fact, look at what the next few verses say after that. Paul is showing a further comparison between US and THEM:

    "But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation." (1 Thessalonians 5:4-8)

    There is no need to try to interpret these verses. They are clear as day. We are in the Light. They are in the darkness. They will be surprised. We will be patiently waiting marking off the days exactly as I demonstrate in my 'Last Seven Years Chart'. Worldly people will be completely taken by surprise by the Second Coming of Christ, but not those of us who understand Endtime events. This is exactly what The E.D.G.E. Online web site and mailing list are all about; trying to help and prepare people for what is ahead. As I have clearly demonstrated in my other Endtime articles, God wants us to understand. That is why He has given us so many signs such as those found in the prophecies of Daniel. Daniel tells us in part:

    "And they that understand among the people shall instruct many..." (Daniel 11:33)

    If we are wise, if we know the Word, then we will understand and be prepared and not be taken by surprised like the unbelieving world. Not only will we understand, but we will instruct others and let them know exactly what is happening. That is why Satan will be out to get us, because we will be telling the world that his days are numbered. The Anti-Christ's days are numbered. The False Prophet's days are numbered. Babylon the Great Whore's days are numbered. With this new understanding of what 'a thief in the night' means, and who it applies to, the rest of these verses make a lot more sense. Consider what Peter wrote:

    "But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up." (2 Peter 3:10)

    The above verse sounds more like the destruction of the Old Earth and the Old Heavens, (our current ones), following the one thousand year reign of Christ on Earth. In looking at the book of Revelation, we know that following the Millenium, Satan will be released from the Bottomless Pit for a short season to deceive the nations of the Earth one more time. As hard as it may be to believe, despite Christ's physical presence for one thousand years, the people of Earth will still rebel. We are then told that God will not waste any further time with them and will simply send fire from Heaven to burn them all up:

    "And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them." (Revelation 20:7-9)

    Afer this, John speaks of Satan being cast into the lake burning with fire and brimstone, the Great White Throne Judgment, the New Heaven and the New Earth, and finally the Heavenly City New Jerusalem which will descend from Heaven. These events are all covered in various of my other articles. Now, if Peter is not referring to these post-millenial events, then he may be referring to a cleansing of the Earth's surface prior to the Lord beginning His Millenial Reign. Regardless of which he is referring to, we the Saints of God will already have our new bodies when these events transpire, so he can't possibly be talking about us being surprised as by a thief in the night. If anyone is going to be surprised, it will be the enemies of God when the Lord sends down the fire one last time to wipe them out.

    To show again that this idea of 'a thief in the night' is a conditional thing, consider what the Spirit says to the church at Sardis:

    "Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee." (Revelation 3:3)

    Is the Lord definitely saying that they will not know when He is coming? No! He very explicitly says 'IF THEREFORE THOU SHALT NOT WATCH.' In other words, if you are watching, you will know when I am about to come. However, if you are not watching, I will surprise you like a thief in the night, just like with all of the unbelievers. This same thought is repeated thirteen chapters later where we read:

    "Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame." (Revelation 16:15)

    You see again, if we are watching and waiting soberly, we won't be caught naked or ashamed. This mention of 'keepeth his garments' is something I have spoken about in other articles. It is the same garment Jesus was referring to in His parable of the marriage feast. It is a garment of righteousness which we all receive when we accept and believe in Christ. It is the only way to enter the Marriage Feast of the Lamb:

    "And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth." (Matthew 22:11-13)

    "Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God." (Revelation 19:7-9)

    Now, some of the favorite verses used by those who claim we will not know when Jesus is going to arrive, are the following:

    "Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away. But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only." (Matthew 24:34-36)

    A little further on, we find a similar verse where the Lord says:

    "Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come." (Matthew 24:42)

    This is followed by yet another:

    "Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh." (Matthew 24:44)

    In the very next chapter in the parable of the ten virgins, we find a similar statement:

    "Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh." (Matthew 25:13)

    From reading the entire chapter of Matthew twenty-four, we know that Jesus is referring to the generation which will see and experience all of the signs He has just described to His disciples. This includes such things as earthquakes, famine, wars and rumors of war, persecution against Christians, the abomination that maketh desolate, the preaching of the Gospel in the whole world, etc. It is after explaining all of these things that Jesus makes the above remarks. Now, let me ask you, why would Jesus give us all of these signs and then state that no one knows when He will return except for His Father in Heaven? Well, I think it is safe to assume that given how much time has transpired since He made those statements, (the Endtime signs), obviously He was not directing them to His immediate disciples, or to anyone living in that generation for that matter. In fact, they were only directed to the final generation which would be living at the time of His Second Coming, to those who would understand and experience the signs. For this reason alone, they didn't have to know. They didn't have to understand. Even the angels didn't have to know.

    The entire emphasis of the above verses is: 'Watch and be ready, watch and be ready.' This is the attitude we should all have every single day of our lives. After all, as I have stated before, although it is true that the Lord will finally come on a certain day, it doesn't necessarily mean that we each have until that long. You could die tomorrow! Would you be ready? Are you currently doing what you believe the Lord wants you to be doing with your life?...Or are you putting it off for some future time when you will be more in the mood? What if Jesus hadn't emphasized to His disciples that He might return at any minute? Do you think they would have done as good of a job of spreading the Gospel as they did? Probably not. As it was, as I have explained in other articles, it took some persecution to finally get them out of Jerusalem and into all the world...and thank God they did! In the following parable of the lord who went away for a wedding, Jesus again emphasizes that the best way we can be ready for Him when He returns, is to be faithfully doing what we know we are supposed to be doing, that is, preaching the Gospel to the lost. We are constantly to be in a state of mental and spiritual preparedness:

    "Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning; And ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately. Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them. And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants. And this know, that if the goodman of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through. Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not. Then Peter said unto him, Lord, speakest thou this parable unto us, or even to all? And the Lord said, Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Of a truth I say unto you, that he will make him ruler over all that he hath. But and if that servant say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to beat the menservants and maidens, and to eat and drink, and to be drunken; The lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers. And that servant, which knew his lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes." (Luke 12:35-47)

    In thinking about all of this, it has occurred to me that perhaps there might be another reason why Jesus was so secretive concerning His Second Coming. Think about this: how would Jesus' first disciples have felt had they known that He wasn't going to return in their lifetimes? Would it have encouraged their faith very much? Of course not. As it was, even after everything had transpired, even after Jesus had been raised from the dead and appeared before the disciples on two occasions, they were still slow to believe. In fact, in the beginning of John chapter twenty-one, we already find them in a spiritually backslidden state. Jesus is gone, they haven't received the Holy Spirit yet, and the Jews are persecuting them; so they don't know what else to do except to return to their old jobs as fishermen:

    "Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing. They say unto him, We also go with thee. They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing." (John 21:3)

    You see, they were so backslidden in their hearts that the Lord didn't even bless their fishing trip...at least not until Jesus arrived on the scene. Peter was so embarrassed that he jumped into the water. After all, Jesus had personally appointed him as the leader of the clan:

    "Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved saith unto Peter, It is the Lord. Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt his fisher's coat unto him, (for he was naked,) and did cast himself into the sea." (John 21:7)

    Some say that Peter jumped into the water because he was so excited and ran or swam to go see the Lord. I am not sure of this. It might be true. However, the fact that the Lord grilled Peter after they had dined makes me wonder. As you may recall from another article, just as Peter had denied knowing the Lord three times, Jesus now questioned him three times as to whether or not he loved Him. So, I believe Peter's actions of jumping out of the boat may have been a sign of embarrassment. At any rate, by being secretive about His Second Coming, and emphasizing their need to always be watchful, and always be prepared, in conjunction with the soon-coming baptism of the Holy Spirit, Jesus was in fact giving the Early Church the impetus it needed to get off to a strong start. As it was, it only took several hundred years before it had cooled off and compromised with the Roman Empire, thus becoming the Holy Roman Empire, a marriage of the Whore and the Beast.

    What I would like to emphasize here again is that if you just take one or even a few verses I have quoted in this article, you will be left with the idea that we are not to know when the Lord will be returning. This is the whole problem with some folks who don't do full Bible studies; they take just a few verses and make a doctrine out of it. However, if we take all of the verses I have quoted thus far, we begin to get a completely different picture. We see that Jesus will only arrive as a thief in the night for those who are not watching for the signs and remaining in a state of preparedness.

    Some have even gone as far as to suggest that perhaps Jesus Himself did not or does not know the day of His Second Coming. This is indeed a possibility; however, I have a hard time accepting this. One interesting thing Jesus said can be found in the eleventh chapter of Matthew where we read:

    "All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him." (Matthew 11:27)

    I find this verse rather interesting if we apply it to this whole idea of the Lord's Second Coming. Just as Jesus hid the true meanings of His parables from His enemies but revealed them to His disciples, could it not also be that He will reveal the day of His Second Coming to us the believers through the prophecies of the Bible as well as the signs we see being fulfilled before us? While the world will be in darkness and caught off guard due to disbelief, could it be that the Lord will reveal more and more to us as that Great Day of His Arrival approaches? Consider this verse:

    "Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets." (Amos 3:7)

    Considering this and the many other verses I have shared in this article, I find it difficult to believe that we are not meant to know the day of the Lord's Second Coming. If anything, as the days get darker and darker ahead, I believe that the Lord will want to encourage our faith to keep holding on through revealing more and more truth to us. Only those who have rejected God's Truth as revealed in the Bible will be caught off guard and not expecting it. As the Apostle Paul tells us in his letter to the Thessalonians:

    "Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;" (2 Thessalonians 2:3)

    This 'falling away' is the Apostasy I referred to earlier. It is the time we are now living in; and it will only continue to get worse as man continues to put more faith in his science, in his own wisdom, in his own forms of government, in his own abilities to solve his problems, and less faith in God. Jesus also hinted at how bad things will be just prior to His arrival when He said:

    "I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?" (Luke 18:8)

    The Apostle Peter also made it very clear what these Last Days would be like when he said:

    "Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation." (2 Peter 3:3-4)

    In conclusion, it is to these scoffers and unbelievers to whom Jesus will suddenly appear as a thief in the night, and NOT to those of us who have been soberly and carefully counting off the days according to the prophecies of Daniel and the book of Revelation. It is these unbelievers who will experience sudden destruction as predicted by Paul in his letter to the Thessalonians. The Lord has seen fit to provide us with many many signs so that we would know when He was about to return. The Bible is full of them. If anyone is ignorant of these signs, it is because he wants to be. The Gospel of Jesus Christ has been preached for several thousands of years now, and it continues to be preached in many different forms and by many different methods. Everyone will be given a chance to hear and know The Truth. It is those who reject it through unbelief who will be caught by surprise at the Lord's return. They will be cast into outer darkness and there will be weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth. I trust this article has been a blessing to many. He's coming soon!

    "...be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life." (Revelation 2:10b)
    *Reproduced with permission.

    This page was created on 11 November 1998