Thief in the night – What does it mean?
“For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.”
I Thessalonians 5:2
Paul described the day of the Lord as a thief in the night. We know that a thief in the night approaches his victim in an unannounced, quiet way. For Christ, the concept of a “thief in night” means that the day of his coming is not known, but when he comes the world will know. This scripture does not support the idea of a secret rapture where Christ will secretly return to get his people. Why should Christ gather his own people secretly? Just the opposite, every eye shall see him. He has the authority of all things, including the people of this earth. He will return to take who is rightfully his. His glorious appearance and the purpose for his second coming will be made known throughout the entire world. (Philippians 2:9)
The bible has provided us with the following regarding the second coming of Christ.
- His return shall be global. He will not appear in different parts of the world. But he shall be seen throughout this world. “For as the sun comes from the east and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” (Matthew 24:27)
- His return is visible. Every eye shall see him. “And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory.” (Mark 13:26)
- His return is audible, he will be heard by the dead and the living. Jesus will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel and with the trump of God. The trumpet sound will be so powerful that it will wake up the righteous dead from their sleep. (I Thessalonians 4:16; I Corinthians 15:52)
- His return will gather the righteous saved people of God. At the sound of the trump the dead righteous in Christ shall awake from their sleep and resurrect to meet Jesus in the air. Following, the alive righteous people will be caught up to meet them in the air. From every part of the earth, his people will be called. (Matthews 24:29-31)
- The second coming of Christ will be about a spiritual everlasting change. We shall be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye the last trump. We will be changed from our mortal being to immortality. We will have a pure, holy body, just like Christ. Mortal bodies cannot enter into heaven. There must be a change. (I Corinthians 15:50-55)
- Upon, the second coming of Christ the unrighteous will be destroyed. The brightness of His appearance will destroy people who are not saved. The dark, sinful spirit cannot behold that pure light of holiness and righteousness. The people who are not saved, who are not found in the grace of God, will die at the appearance of Christ. Christ will return after the thousand years (millennium) for the great white throne judgement. At that time, all the unrighteous people will be resurrected to receive their judgment of eternal death. (II Thessalonians 1:7-10; Revelation 20:11)
In our daily life, we prepare for a thief in many ways. We invest in home or car alarms. We put safety locks on our home windows. We participate in community alerts. Just as we consider protecting our life from a thief, Christ has offered us a protection plan to be ready for his return. He offers us salvation. Jesus taught, “that you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.” Jesus is truth because he became all that God wanted him to be. Christ was born to become the sacrificial lamb for the world. Man needed someone to become the atonement for his sins. Sin had separated man from God. We needed Christ to break the yoke of sin and to restore the bond that man was intended to have with our Creator. God alone is holy, righteous, and full of glory. For no man, shall see God without going through Jesus Christ. (John 8:32)
In Christ, we can grow in the knowledge and understanding of the importance of salvation. The second coming of Christ will end the need of salvation. At his coming, believers whom he regards worthy, are sealed with the gift of eternal life. His coming ends the opportunity for anyone to accept him as their personal Savior, seeking for the mercies of God.