Scripture Text – Matthew 24:3-14
How the Thief Comes
The figure of a thief suggests many things about the coming of the Lord. I will enumerate a few:
- He comes at the darkest part of the night.
- He comes quietly and unobserved by sleepers.
- He comes to snatch something.
- He is after jewels and gold and pearls.
- He is not interested in things of no value.
- He has come and gone before others are aware of it.
- He leaves the house greatly impoverished but himself greatly enriched.
Jesus said, “Behold, I come as a thief.” He will come at a dark period of the world’s night. Has it ever been darker than today? Kingdoms are tottering and falling. Violence is rampant in the world, and the devil and his dictators are on the loose. Immorality, crime, apostasy and hate are everywhere. Yes, it is dark, but a darker time is yet to come. Just before the darkest hour the thief will come. We can hear His soft tread if we are wide awake, listening, watching believers. Soon He will catch us away and then the darkest period of history will come.
The thief comes to snatch away that which has value. He is after the pearl of great price (Matthew 13). That pearl is the Church. It may be somewhat tarnished, and I fear it is, but He will snatch it and thoroughly cleanse it before He comes back in the brightness of glory, wearing His precious pearl that will then be without spot or blemish. The pearl (or anything of great value) has worth only because of its purchase price. When Jesus comes like a thief He will take only those who have value by reason of the fact that they were purchased by His blood. All others will be left behind.
The thief does not take worthless things. He does not bother with the wastebasket or the rubbish pile. He leaves these behind. Reader, heed this: if you are not saved—born again by His Spirit and washed in His blood—you are worthless in His sight. You will be left behind to face the wrath of God. You will be destroyed in that “day of the Lord.”
Are you ready for that day? It may come very soon, and then for those who have heard the Word and rejected it, it will be forever too late. While it is true that multitudes will be saved after the Church is taken out and that these multitudes shall be from every tribe and tongue and nation, it is true also that these multitudes will be those who have not heard the Gospel of the grace of God as you have. Are you ready? As surely as the Lord Jesus came the first time He will come again the second time.
Reader, are you ready? Accept the Lord Jesus as your Saviour and you will not need to meet Him as your judge.
The Blessed Hope
But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.
For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words. – 1 Thessalonians 4:13–18.
This is probably the best known passage in the New Testament setting forth the event which is called “that blessed hope.” It is the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ for His Church at the close of this present dispensation—just before the breaking of that day of the earth’s greatest testing and trial, the Tribulation. This revelation is all the more precious because it occurs in one of Paul’s earliest (if not the very first) letters. This letter, written to the Thessalonian church, a church which Paul established on his second missionary journey, reveals to us how fervently Paul looked for the return of the Lord Jesus Christ. We shall divide the passage into five parts. These divisions are as follows:
- The occasion for the epistle (verse 13).
- The condition of the blessed hope (verse 14).
- The authority of the revelation (verse 15).
- The order of the blessed hope (verses 16–17).
- The result of His coming (verse 18).
To Be Continued