Christ the Thief
In His Olivet Discourse (Mt 24–25), preached just days before His crucifixion, Jesus compared His second coming to the timing of a thief (24:43). His disciples desired to know when the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem would occur (24:1–2). They also longed to know the signs of His coming and the end of the world (Mt 24:3).
Jesus offered His disciples a litany of signs: wars, famines, pestilence, earthquakes, the global preaching of the Gospel, persecution of the church, apostasy in the church, and the appearing of Antichrist. He warned His disciples that humanity would be unprepared, as in the days of Noah (Gen 6–9) and the days of Lot (Gen 19).
The ordinary things people did in the days just prior to tribulation, will be the same things they are doing on the day of His second advent. The intensification of signs will resemble a woman entering child-birth labors. The world will contract and writhe in much pain.
The man of sin will appear on the global stage as a false Messiah (2 Thess 2). His intrigue will deceive all but the elect saints of God (Mt 24:24). Only those who know Christ Jesus, having His indwelling Spirit (Jn 14:17; Rom 8:9, 11), will discern the impostor.
With unmatched prowess, Antichrist will do what no world leader has ever done. He will secure peace, prosperity, and unity among the nations. He will present Himself as the promised One of God, and he will present his image for men to worship in the world-wide church.
At the pinnacle of his power, blasphemies, abominations, and desolation, in an hour known only to God, the Lord Jesus Christ will return to earth upon the clouds of heaven with great power and glory. Every eye shall see Him, and every ear will hear the trumpet of God sound throughout the earth.
Men know of His coming again, but they do not know the day nor the hour (Mt 24:36). For this reason, the mass of humanity lives as if, today, is not the day of Christ’s return. This includes many in the church, who love this world more than the Lord of glory.
Foolish stewards, foolish virgins, evil servants, goats, and slothful ones are all descriptive terms to identify the unprepared in Christ’s own house. These sleep through sermons, never open their Bibles, infrequently pray, and randomly show up to corporate worship. They are not preparing themselves.
Not being prepared for a thief is a sure sign of unbelief, “That could never happen to me.” Christians in every age, and in every place, prepare to meet the Lord. The church, as a whole, readies herself, as a bride for her wedding day.
The thief causes others to suffer loss. Christ’s second advent will be accompanied by His judgment, in which unbelievers will be raptured by angels, who sift them like tares to be thrown into eternal fire. The reprobate sinner loses everything on the last day. Without Christ, his whole existence is deemed worthless. He is thrown into the tormenting fires of hell, where the worm does not die.
Christ has told us that He is coming again. The signs, He promises, are ever with us. With each human, and every natural disaster, we must be reminded of His prophetic promise. His coming is reminiscent of the thief in the dark of night. The owner of the house is aware of what is happening in the neighborhood. He simply does not know when the thief will pay his visit. So, he remains vigilant, keeping watch.
Christian, you must heed the warning of Christ, our Lord. You must obey His commands, regarding His glorious appearing, at the end of the age. Look for these things and spur one another on to this good work of waiting and watching.
Spokane Valley, Washington
December 8, 2021