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The Watchful Owner and the Thief in the Night

The Passage
Matt. 24:42-44

The Parameters

Discussion about Tribulation , Second Coming of Christ, parable of the fig tree, then the discussion about the days of Noah. The days of Noah with the sudden judgment is used as the illustration of the danger of being caught off guard by the unexpected time of its arrival. Prior to the flood, it had never rained. So, when Noah said it was going to flood, they thought he was crazy. Then, after all were inside the ark and the door was shut, it started to rain for the first time in history. Everyone was caught off guard. As in the previous parable, watchfulness is the byword of belief. The time of arrival for the Son of Man is unknown as is likened to a thief arriving in the middle of the night.

The Problem

For those who are alive at the Second Advent of Christ to the earth, what will keep them from being surprised by the “thief-in-the-night” appearance of the Son of Man who will execute His judgment upon the unbelievers of that time?

The appearance of the thief in the night is to judge! - Not to deliver by means of the rapture.

“I wish we’d all been ready...” Larry Norman wrote a song about that for a the movie called The Thief in the Night, but he pulled the phrase out of context. People still get saved from the The Thief in the Night movie, but it is not biblically correct. Luke 17:37 shows that those that are taken will go where the vultures are - i.e. judgment. Phil 1 is a great passage to keep in mind. “Some people preach Christ out of pretense...” If God can use a donkey in the OT to spread the truth, He can use us. His word does not return void... God uses us in our maturing and learning process. It’s good we don’t have to wait until we are mature -- especially since we never arrive.

The Presentation

He makes a comparison to the unexpectedness of a thief who comes into your house at night and steals something. If you had known, you would have been sitting there with your gun or have the police sitting there with you.

Consequently, He gives a command: be ready: the Son of Man will come at an unexpected hour.

Believers are not caught off guard by the thief because we are not in the night-time period. Paul explains that later in 1Thess 5:4. He says we “are not of the darkness that the day should overtake you like a thief.” You have to understand the concept of the Jewish day. The Jewish day started with in the evening and then came the daylight. Tribulation comes before blessing. Therefore, when Thess says you are not of the night, it means they would not be in the tribulation. And if the thief comes in the night, he is coming in the tribulation.

Luke 17:37 The point of the Noah and Lot illustrations is the judgment. Those that were not ready for the flood were all destroyed. Same in Sodom and Gomorrah. Those that are not ready for the return of Christ will all be destroyed. You don’t want to be taken here, because the end is judgment.

The Point

Since no one knows the day nor the hour of the Lord’s return, watchful and readiness should characterize those who would be prepared for His coming.

The Relationship to the Kingdom

Those who are not prepared for the sudden and unexpected return of Christ, as manifested in their lack of watchfulness and readiness, will be taken away in the judgment which will immediately precede the establishment of the Messianic kingdom on earth for a millennium.

The Principles

Same as last parable.

If the Christ’s return at the end of the tribulation will be as surprising as a thief in the night, then how much more so with the rapture which is not preceded by signs.

Related Topics: Eschatology (Things to Come)