“For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night” (1 Thessalonians 5:2).
Paul used the figure of a thief to emphasizes the unexpectedness of the second coming, thus warning his readers to be ready for its occurring at any time (1 Thessalonians 4:15). If they heed his words, then it would not come as a surprise to them (Luke 21:34–36; 1 Thessalonians 5:4).
The gospels often connect the coming of Christ with night-time (Matthew 24:43; 25:6; Mark 13:35; Luke 12:35–38; 17:34). The early church took the illustrations literally and expected the Lord’s return to occur around midnight. Jerome mentions a Jewish tradition of the midnight coming of the Lord at the first Passover in Egypt to point to the Messiah coming at midnight. But this is not necessarily true of the actual second coming of Jesus.
Christ gave the believers many signs of the end to help them know the time frame of His coming back so that they would be ready. These signs are recorded in Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21. The Scriptures teach that the time immediately preceding Christ’s appearing will be one of universal distress.
Some believe the Jesus’ coming will be secret to steal believers out of this world in a secret rapture. But Peter says that Jesus’ coming is definitely not a silent, secret event that precedes a seven-year period of tribulation. Rather, this day arrives suddenly with a “great noise” and is clearly connected with the end of the world: “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up” (2 Peter 3:10).
Basically, Jesus’ followers will not be surprised or unaware of the events directly before Christ’s coming. It will only come as a surprise or be unexpected to those who do not obey God.
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In His service,
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