Bruce Collins, Evangelist

The personal website of Bruce Collins

Unexpected Coming

Matthew 24:43-44 NKJV — “But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. “Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”
1 Thessalonians 5:2 NKJV — For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night.
2 Peter 3:10 NKJV — 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.
Revelation 3:3 NKJV — “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.
Surprise, Surprise!
People seem to think that something terrible is about to happen and some wonder if this pandemic combined with the protests of the Black Lives Movement could spell the beginning of the Day of the Lord.  The Day of the Lord is used in the Old Testament to speak of coming judgment.  Words like wrath, judgment, and vengeance are associated with that day and it seems that the Day of the Lord involves all the nations of the world that exist when the day of God’s wrath is poured out on this earth.  Our verses above indicate that the Day of the Lord is not going to be expected.  When we are told that that day comes like a thief in the night, we understand that He is going to come when people are unprepared and when they least expect Him to come.  If we expect a thief to come we bolt the door and keep watch.   
I notice that the idea of the thief is associated with the Lord’s second coming and also with the church of Sardis in Revelation 3.  That church was proud of its past.  They had a reputation for being sold out for the Lord but unfortunately they were now dead.  While there was a believing remnant in the church, for the most part it was living on its reputation and had lost its purpose and vigor.  I do not think that believers go through the tribulation period, but obviously not everyone in this church is a believer.  And I suspect that is true of many if not most of our churches today in our western civilization.  In each of the seven churches of Revelation 2 and 3, the overcomer has blessings that belong only to true believers and they represent the faithful remnant in each of the local congregations. But the unbelievers will not be raptured and they will experience the day of the Lord.
So What is the Day of the Lord in the New Testament?
It is the day when God begins to exercise His authority over the earth.  Peter takes the day of the Lord all the way to the eternal state after the heaven and earth that now exists is destroyed by fire and a new heaven and new earth is established in righteousness. With all the prophetic teaching that exists today, how could these events come as a thief in the night?  I suppose the answer lies in the fact that true believers will be raptured (or caught away) before the judgments begin.  Unbelievers will be astounded to find out that God really is going to pour out his judgment on this Christ-rejecting world.  
Actually, there is a calendar of events associated with at least part of the Day of the Lord.  I believe the Day of the Lord will involve seven years of tribulation, then one thousand years of the righteous rule of the Lord, after which there will be another rebellion by those born during the millennium.  Then Peter’s prophecy of the earth being destroyed by fire and a new heavens and a new earth being established will take place.  But Daniel nine gives us a time-line of seventy weeks or seventy sevens (probably 490 years) that starts with the unbelieving nation of Israel signing a peace treaty with someone out of the revived Roman Empire who promises them peace.  Again the Jews will put their trust in a man and not in the Lord.  After the rapture there will be some Jews who will be miraculously converted and who will know what is happening (likely the 144,000). They will know that from the signing of that peace treaty until the Lord comes in Revelation 19 will be seven years (the last week of Daniel’s prophecy).  They will also know that from the rise of the first beast of Revelation 13 until the Lord comes to save Israel will be three and one-half years or 42 months.  These years will be prophetic years of 360 days based on the Jewish calendar.  The believing remnant (the 144,000) will be able to count down to the coming of the Lord to set up His kingdom, but the world or society that exists just before the Day of the Lord begins will not have a clue.
So What About us Today?  
I truly believe that those who are believers when the Lord comes to take His bride home (the rapture of the church) will be gone when the Day of the Lord is ushered in.  We say that the Lord is in control of all that is happening today.  Well actually there is a sense in which that is true and a sense in which it is not.  Nothing takes the Lord by surprise but right now He is like an absentee landlord who has delegated authority to those of us living on this earth.  He knows that people are not following His instructions and that includes the visible church called Christendom.  Just as He waited for the Amorites in the Old Testament to complete their rebellion before God destroyed them (Genesis 15:16), He is doing the same today.  But judgment is coming.  One would have thought WWI might have been the end.  But it was not.  One might have thought that Hitler and WWII was the end but it was not.  The Spanish flu was not the end and likely Covid 19 will not be the end. But just as those who laughed at Noah got the surprise of their lives when rain which they had never seen began to fall and when the fountains of the deep were opened up, I can assure you that judgment is coming and it is going to take the world by surprise.  We don’t know when it is coming, but it is coming. Fortunately, it will only last seven years and only the last half of that seven will be really terrible. The first half may be the calm before the storm.  The first half will lull people to sleep, thinking they have found someone who can give the world peace when only the Lord can do that.
When will this Happen?
It will all happen when the world and Israel least expect it.  And even with all the preaching on prophecy in our present day, I think there will be a lot of religious people who are going to be standing outside of a closed door because they were not ready when the Day of the Lord is ushered in (See Luke 13:23-28).
If you are not saved, you will probably give a great sigh of relief when this pandemic passes and when law and order seem to be reestablished in our country.  But don’t get too comfortable because the Lord says, “Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”
Bruce Collins
Meditation for the week of July 26, 2020

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