Bruce Collins, Evangelist

The personal website of Bruce Collins

Coming as a Thief

Meditation for the week of December 28, 2008

Revelation 3:3 "Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you.

Revelation 16:15 "Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame."

Another year is gone.  We have accomplished some things we wanted to accomplish and we have left other things undone.  We have been thrilled at some things that have happened this year, and we have been greatly disappointed by other things.  There is one thing that has not happened that believers in the Lord Jesus Christ have been longing to have happen for nearly 2000 years.  The Lord has not yet kept His promise to return (John 14:3).

Because it has been so long since the Lord made the promise, there are scoffers that are saying, “Where is the promise of His coming (2 Peter 3:4)?”  Scoffers tend to think 2000 years is too short to prove evolutionary theory but that 2000 years is too long when it comes to depending on a promise that the Lord has made.  Just as I have depended on the fact that God said Christ died for the ungodly (Romans 5:6), I am depending on the fact that the Lord has promised to come again. 

When we are told that the Lord will come as a thief, sometimes we think that means that we cannot know when the Lord is going to return; and, therefore, we get careless about watching and waiting for Him to return.  One of the reasons that I believe that the return of the Lord for the church must occur before the prophetic calendar of events for the nation of Israel begins is that I do believe that the Lord wanted us to think that He could return at any time.  If the church is going to go through some or all of that period of time called the Tribulation then there would have to be some things happen before He could return and we who are saved would not need to be waiting and watching. 

However, the Lord’s coming as a thief does not mean that we cannot know when the Lord is going to return.  It means instead that we simply do not expect the Lord to return.  You will notice that the Lord’s coming as a thief is a warning to both the church and to those going through the Tribulation.  In Revelation 16:15, the church has already been caught up into heaven (Revelation 4:1) and the events that must take place after that event are being described.  For the Jewish believing remnant that knows the prophecies of Scripture, they will be able to count down from the day that the temple is desecrated by the Antichrist until the Lord returns to set up His kingdom.  It will be one half of the last unfinished prophetic week of Daniel 9:27.  The prophetic week of Daniel 9  represents seven years with each day being a year.  So from the time the Antichrist ends the Jewish worship until the Lord returns to set up his kingdom will be 42 months or 1260 days (Revelation 13:5).   While the church does not know when the Lord will come for them, the believing Jews of the Tribulation period can know.  But in both cases, the Lord will come as a thief to a majority of the people.  When we don’t expect a thief, we  don’t lock the doors or buy a guard dog.  If we do expect a thief, we prepare for him.  By and large the Lord will surprise the whole world when He fulfills the promise he made 2000 years ago.  The church is not expecting to be caught away from the wrath that is coming, and those who go through that wrath do not expect to see the Lord come on the white horse with the armies of heaven to defeat his foes (Revelation 19:11-21).  But both will happen.   I know it will because the Lord has spoken, and I believe God. 

Hopefully, this is the year that the Lord will fulfill His promise.  I would like to be among those who are waiting expectantly and eagerly to hear the shout that announces the rapture.  I remember playing hide and seek as a kid, and while one person closed his eyes, the others hid.  Before the one who closed his eyes started his search, he would always say, “Coming, ready or not.” That is just what is going to happen when the Lord returns.  He is going to come whether we are ready or not.   

Bruce Collins

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