"The DAY of the LORD will come like a thief
in the night."
Will it come before or after the Millennium?
Chapter Ten of the Commentary on
Its Relevance for
the 21st Century
“Look, I come like
Revelation 6:21; 14:14-16;
16:12-16; 11:3-13; 19:11-22
[Formatting of Part 1 continued]
2. Revelation 16:15. “Look, I come like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake and remains clothed, so as not to go naked and be shamefully exposed.” In this text, Jesus Christ himself says: “Look, I come like a thief!” We observe that the time factor does not figure
expressly in this declaration of the Lord. Nevertheless, the context is the same as in 2 Peter 3:10 and 1 Thessalonians 5:4, to wit: That of the Second Coming of Christ. Therefore, it would be logical to give the phrase “like a thief” the same meaning it has in the writings of Peter and Paul, and vice versa.
a) The immediate context of Revelation 16:15 comprises the verses
from 16:13 to 16:16. Let us consider them. The nations, deceived
by Satan by means of the “three unclean spirits that” look “like
frogs,” are gathered by him “for the great battle on the great
day of God Almighty.” This “battle” will be fought in the place
called “Armageddon.” When? On “the great day of God
Almighty.” So then, although the time factor is not
specifically present in the declaration “I come like a thief,” it
definitely is included in the context. Once again, the subject
is a “day.” Not just any day but “the GREAT DAY” identified as
“of God Almighty,” called simply “the day of God” in 2 Peter 3:12.
In the vision of the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:15-17), the impenitent,
from “the kings of the earth” to “everyone else, both slave and free,” recognize that the “the great day” of “the wrath of the Lamb” has come when they witness, absolutely terrified, the “great earthquake,” the sun turning “black like sackcloth made of goat hair,” and “the whole moon” turning “blood red.”
Are “the great day of God Almighty” and the “great day” of “the wrath of the Lamb” synonymous? Unquestionably! In both, God the Father and Christ the Son confront deceived, rebellious nations in the time of the end that are totally unable to “withstand” the irresistible divine powers. Revelation 6:17. Their overwhelming, almost instant, final defeat is graphically described in Revelation 19:11-22.
It is thus, then, in that “great day of God Almighty,” in that “great day” of “the wrath of the Lamb,” all of a sudden, Christ will come “like a thief” on the nations united in callous, defiant opposition to God. He will come unexpectedly at an hour when people on the Earth will most assuredly not have any premonition of awesome appearances and commotions in the heavens above them nor worldwide catastrophes on the surface of the planet itself. For they will be at ease, comfortable, and feeling secure in the “new world order they have created."
(1) Respected reader, please take note that Jesus Christ proclaimed “Look, I come like a thief” in the context of Revelation 16:13-16. The declaration is not just injected into the passage unattached to the revelations that precede and follow it. On the contrary, the text itself establishes the parameters for the time of its execution. Recapitulating: the setting is that of deceived nations uniting for the battle of Armageddon on “the great day of God Almighty.” Projecting the fulfillment of “I come like a thief” for any other time or event would be a violation of the exigencies of sound exegesis.
For example, setting the time for before the Millennium, as a “silent rapture” of righteous souls that would not materially impact the deceived nations would be a grave mistake. Definitively, in this text, “I come like a thief,” does not have anything to do with some “silent rapture” or “secret rapture” but, instead, with the thunderous confrontation, globally visible, between God and his Son, the “Faithful and True,” both incensed at having been repudiated despite every intent on their part to save every soul (1 Timothy 2:3-5), and attacked by rebellious nations whose governing powers “band together against the Lord and against his anointed.” Psalm 2:1-3
(2) So then, Christ will come “like a thief” on the deceived nations. With all, let it be understood: His coming against them “like a thief” does not mean, by any means, that he comes “secretly.” The very opposite takes place: He comes openly! Visible for all people that are alive on that day.
“Look, he is coming with the clouds, and ‘every eye will see him, even
those who pierced him;’ and all peoples on earth ‘will mourn because of him.’ So shall it be! Amen.” Revelation 1:7. And he will come violently on those deceived, irredeemable nations. Revelation 19:11-22. “…and all peoples on earth will mourn because of him.”
These texts help us understand the true meaning of “like a thief,” and this is the same meaning “like a thief” has in 1 Thessalonians 5:4 and 2 Peter 3:10. Its principal meaning in the three texts is: with cataclysmic surprise and demolishing violence; with “pains” and “sudden destruction” for all those people who are “in darkness,” causing “all peoples on earth” to “mourn because of him.”
b) Holding this fundamental meaning of “like a thief in the night” to be correct, it is to be necessarily inferred that the phrase does not have anything whatsoever to do with Christians who walk in the light and not “in darkness,” that are “of the day” and not “of the night.” Consequently, the doctrine of a “secret rapture,” or “silent rapture” of righteous souls, must be classified among the crassest errors to beset Christianity across the centuries. To be sure, that doctrine is, according to my own very extensive studies and firm conviction, an enormous and complex, artfully devised deceit that has entertained, bewitched, befuddled, and led astray hundreds of millions of believers all over the world. Some of them and/or their progeny may be among the most dreadfully “surprised” on “the great day” of “the wrath of the Lord."
Dear student of these subjects, in the graphic above the principal events for the Day of the Lord that will come like a thief in the night, are projected on a timeline. Start on the left with “Armageddon in progress” and “The Two Witnesses are overpowered and killed,” with the relevant Bible texts below them. Then, “continue” to the statement in white letters at the top: “The Day of the Lord begins…” with the events and Bible references below, and from there to the right the sequence of events continues, terminating with the Judgement of the Nations, synonymous with the White Throne Judgement. A “secret, silent Second Coming and Rapture” are not on the timeline because they are not taught in the Bible. Hopefully, you will find the scrutiny of this visualization worthwhile.
My conclusion is reinforced by the fact that the “children of the light and the children of the day,” that is, Christians loyal to the Lord, will be, just as already stated, caught up into Heaven BEFORE Christ comes “like a thief” upon impenitent, incorrigible people who purposely remain “in darkness.” Let us reason a little.
When the time for “the day of the Lord” to begin has arrived, first those who have died in Christ will be raised, and right away the followers of Christ alive on the Earth at that hour will be transformed.
Then these two groups will accompany the “Faithful and True” One in his manifestation “like a thief” upon human beings wrapped in their “darkness” and certain of their own powers to maintain themselves without the help of any “god” whatsoever.
This is the scenario of events painted by biblical texts such as 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 5:1-11; 1 Corinthians 15:51-52; Revelation 11:1-14 y 14:14-20.
Coming, then, the resurrected and the transformed followers of Christ in the clouds, with him VISIBLY, in his Second Coming, constituting, as they do, "the armies of Heaven… riding on white horses” (Revelation 19:11-14), to participate in the ultimate “war” against the deceived, unredeemable nations and their final defeat, with what sense or logic could it be postulated that he “catches up secretly and silently any group of souls, leaving behind the unprepared to continue an earthly existence, all with a view to initiating seven years later a Millennial Kingdom on planet Earth?” Nothing like this fictitious scenario in the Bible.
Neither does the Holy Spirit teach a “Second Phase” to the Second Coming of Christ, nor, by even the shadow of implication, a “Third Coming.” The thesis of a “secret, silent rapture” simply cannot be found in Bible texts on the Second Coming of Christ. Neither does it harmonize at all with what is revealed about prophesied events for the future of humanity and the material universe.
B. The set of theories on “a silent, secret rapture at the time of the Second Coming of Christ, a Second Phase of the Second Coming, a Millennium after the Second Coming, and a Third Coming” not only does not harmonize with the clear teachings of the God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit on “the day of the Lord that comes as a thief in the night,” but is also contrary to the very nature and character of Jesus Christ, for he is not a “thief” who would come to “steal away” a people. Rather he is the “Faithful and True” who acts openly and with complete transparency. He does not steal
away the righteous sons of God on the earth when “the day” of his Second Coming begins but catches them up, takes them up (1 Thessalonians 4:17) in the presence of their enemies (Revelation 11:11-12), who are then killed “with the sword coming out of” his “mouth,” with the “sharp sword” of his Word by which he can create or destroy, give life or kill, by just speaking the Words. Revelation 11:15, 21; Hebrews 4:12; Genesis 1. Absolutely no one is “left behind” with life on the earth. “The rest were killed…” Revelation 19:2
1. “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the AIR. And so we will be with the Lord forever.” 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17. Behold here, the divine truths on the Second Coming of Christ. Nothing in them about some theoretical “Second Phase of the Second Coming,” or “Third Coming.” Behold here, the ONLY BIBLICAL RAPTURE of the obedient disciples of Jesus Christ on the eve of “the day of the Lord that will come like a thief in the night,” and not some “Secret, silent rapture that precedes the Millennium.” Behold, those disciples who are thus “caught up together… in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air… will be with the Lord FOREVER.” “FOREVER!” Never coming back to earth!
2. The case of the “two witnesses” and “their enemies.” “But after the three and a half days the breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and terror struck those who saw them. Then they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, ‘Come up here.’ And they went up to heaven in a cloud, while THEIR ENEMIES LOOKED ON.” Revelation 11:11-12. Behold here, the only BIBLICAL RAPTURE! Visible to the “terror struck… enemies.” Absolutely nothing in this divine scenario of a “secret, silent rapture.”
The “two witnesses,” who are Christ and the Holy Spirit, as per the explanation in Chapter Four of this Commentary, are represented on the earth by the “Word of God… alive and active” (Hebrews 4:12) and by the evangelists, bishops (elders), teachers and other faithful ministers of the true gospel, as well as by all genuine Christians. Silenced toward the end of the “little time” by the generally secular-atheistic world, some of them are martyred by the enemy beast and violent elements of the deceived nations. As the end-time events come rapidly to a climax, of a sudden “the breath of life from God” enters “them, and they” stand “on their feet.” Revelation 11:11
Dear reader, the enemies of God and his people VIEW, TERRIFIED, this EVENT! Then, when the resurrected martyrs go “up to heaven in a cloud,” those who had killed them “LOOKED ON!” No doubt, with heart-pounding fear. Nothing in the terrific drama of the “two witnesses” about a “silent, secret rapture,” nor of “unprepared souls that do not personally witness the events, neither “of enemies left behind to continue life on planet Earth.” Religious speculations and fantasies of “ignorant and unstable people” who “distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction,” as well as, sorrowfully, that of their bewitched and adoring followers. 2 Peter 3:14-18
This painting presents the “Silent Rapture and Left Behind” doctrine in accordance with the perceptions and preaching of the Rapturites. Drivers of vehicles and pilots of airplanes said to be “holy before God” are suddenly raptured secretly and silently by Jesus Christ. Their driverless vehicles crashing; their pilotless planes falling to the earth, into the seas, or
crashing into buildings. The “righteous dead” (Pentecostals, charismatics, evangelicals, and other believers in the silent rapture) are raised and raptured. All other human beings alive at the moment of the “rapture” are “left behind” on the Earth, stupefied by the sudden disappearance of family members, fellow-workers, friends, etc. who “have been secretly, silently raptured."
Seven years after this mind-boggling scenario, as fictitious as mesmerizing to the unlearned, a Paradise-like Millennial Kingdom of Peace begins on Earth, with Jesus Christ coming to occupy a literal throne in Jerusalem. From there, other circumstances and events eventually evolve, causing the “fall of the Millennial Paradise” and leading to the end of the world and time, a Third Coming of Christ having to be invented for it to happen that way.
This long and convoluted web of doctrines is no where to be found in the Bible. In modern times, for decades, even centuries, self-appointed prophets, prophetesses, evangelists, pastors, preachers, and religious writers, as recklessly bold as they are mistaken, have been setting specific dates, one after another, for the “invisible Second Coming of Christ and the secret, silent rapture of the elect.” Frustrated and put to open shame each and every one of them by their stupendous failures before an ever-increasing skeptical, atheistic, and scoffing public.
II. Backed by Parts 1 and 2 of this study, I personally hold to be evident and really irrefutable the following deduction: The Millennium definitely does PRECEDE the coming of “the day of the Lord” that “will come like a thief in the night.” Repeating and underscoring: On the timeline of our Common Era, the Millennium most assuredly does COME BEFORE“the day of the Lord” that “will come like a thief in the night.” No question about it.
III. In view of the Bible doctrines on “as a thief in the night” detailed and sustained in this study, I cordially call on modern “Rapturites” to put an end to the sowing of the false and damaging “gospel of the fictitious secret, silent rapture.” I am not using the name “Rapturites” disrespectfully, rather as a concise identification of those who promote the complex doctrinal system developed around the nucleus of a “secret, silent rapture” at the center.
May they courageously recognize their multiple errors in that regard and the concomitant ones on the Millennium, publicly renouncing and resisting religious councils, churches, and independent movements that persist in stirring up naïve, gullible, doctrinally ignorant believers with prophetical fantasies, phantasmagoric projections, “false dreams,” and lying visions wrongly attributed to God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit. Ezequiel 13; Jeremiah 23:9-40. The Godhead has given us clear and precise revelations on the meaning of “like a thief in the night.” Let the Rapturites prove their honesty, spiritual intelligence, and objectivity by accepting and teaching them, free of novel additions, to their hearers or readers, walking in the light of day and not in the darkness of night. And that “…the day of the Lord” may NOT “SURPRISE” them too “like a thief in the night!” Amen!
IV. Revelation 3:3. In his message to the church in Sardis, Christ also uses the phrase “like a thief.” “Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; hold it fast, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you.”
A. The clear connotation of “I will come like a thief” in the context of the letter to the church in Sardis is that of a warning, a threat, of strong discipline or punishment. Paraphrasing: Keep the gospel “you have received and heard.” Repent of your spiritual deadness, your “unfinished” works. “Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die.” For if you do not, you will certainly be surprised by the severe consequences. “I will come” on you “like a thief.”
Now then, this warning was given to the Christians that were in the city of Sardis, in the Roman province of Asia, towards the end of the 1st century CE, and, consequently, it is to be deduced that if that church did not rectify its course the warning would be executed in that time. Obviously, the clause “I will come like a thief” in the letter is not related at all to the Second Coming of Christ. Should the warning be carried out, the coming of Christ “like a thief” on the Sardis church would be rhetorical, and not a personal, visible action. A manipulation by Christ of circumstances and conditions surrounding that church that would result in divine punishment for the guilty. For that specific congregation and time. Having nothing to do with his actual, visible coming “as a thief” on the last day of the “little time.”
B. Why would the Lord choose the comparison “like a thief” to communicate to the church in Sardis his threatened manner of coming upon them in punishment (Hebrews 12:1-13) should the Christians in that city not respond appropriately to his advice? What did he intend to say? The Lord himself answers these questions, at least in part, by adding: “…and you will not know at what time I will come to you.”
Again paraphrasing: Why do I say I will come on you “like a thief?” What is the sense of my words? Of this comparison? Specifically, that you will not know at what time I will carry out my threat. Who can say at what hour a thief will come? Well, neither can you know at what hour or how I will punish you if you do not wake up from your spiritual stupor, if you do not heed my advice. You may be certain my words are not empty, and you will be greatly and unpleasantly surprised by my actions against you if you do not take me seriously.
C. So then, once again the time factor stands out as the most important aspect of the expression “like a thief.” “…you will not know at what time I will come to you.” That Christ would come “secretly, silently” on the Sardis church to punish recalcitrant members and “rapture prepared ones?” None of these ideas harmonize with the context of “like a thief” in Revelation 3:3.
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