How and why Jesus will return “as a thief”

One of the most widely-known phrases in the Bible is “as a thief.” This phrase is said by Jesus Himself and sometimes it’s connected to “the day of the Lord.”

Ever wonder why Jesus is referred to someone who is not good, such as a thief? What makes someone a thief? A thief take something that is not his.

For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. (1 Thessalonians 5:2)

But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief: (1 Thessalonians 5:4)

If you have the light of Jesus, you are not in darkness and will not be taken (or overtaken). (More on this later.)

But what “day” is this that Paul references?

But the day of the Lord will come as a thief; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall be dissolved with fervent heat, and the earth and the works that are therein shall be burned up. (2 Peter 3:10)

When Jesus comes “as a thief,” does this sound like a quiet thief in secret: “the heavens shall pass away with a great noise”?

If we keep connecting the dots, we will see how this all ties together. Many people keep displacing verses to make them fit their own eschatology. This misrepresentation of verses is why there are many disputes over the timing of His return.

Are you looking forward to the heavens being on fire? Peter said that we should be.

Seeing that these things are thus all to be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy living and godliness, looking for and earnestly desiring the coming of the day of God, by reason of which the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? (2 Peter 3:11-12)

Peter was telling us we should be “looking for and earnestly desiring” this day. The reason for which the “heavens being on fire” is His coming. Just look at Revelation 16 alone and you can see that the six bowls are poured out and He, “as a thief,” still hasn’t returned yet.

(Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.) (Revelation 16:15)

Why is this? Because they (the wicked) are still being gathered together. We need to go deeper into this to get more clarity of this prophecy.

Gathered together

And they gathered them together into the place which is called in Hebrew Har-Magedon. (Revelation 16:16)

Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather up first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them; but gather the wheat into my barn. (Matthew 13:30)

We have been growing alongside the wicked on the earth, but eventually the wicked will be gathered together into one place and will be burned “first.” But where?

Gathered

For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city. (Zechariah 14:2)

Burned

And this shall be the plague wherewith Jehovah will smite all the peoples that have warred against Jerusalem: their flesh shall consume away while they stand upon their feet, and their eyes shall consume away in their sockets, and their tongue shall consume away in their mouth. (Zechariah 14:12)

This is tied together with the abomination of desolation. God will use the wicked to destroy Jerusalem, as He has before, but this next time while they’re doing it, a plague will come and burn them up. This is why all through scripture we are told to watch.

But when ye see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that her desolation is at hand. (Luke 21:20)

Who is taken

And as were the days of Noah, so shall be the coming of the Son of man. For as in those days which were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and they knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall be the coming of the Son of man. (Matthew 24:37-39)

“They knew not”

These people only cared about the things of the world, like eating and drinking. Noah knew seven days before the flood which was God’s wrath upon a totally wicked and corrupt world.

For yet seven days, and I will cause it to rain upon the earth forty days and forty nights; and every living thing that I have made will I destroy from off the face of the ground. (Genesis 7:4)

So the people who were taken away were the lost. The disciples asked the Lord, “Where are they taken?” He basically said they are dead.

I say unto you, In that night there shall be two men on one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left. There shall be two women grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left. There shall be two men in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left. And they answering say unto him, Where, Lord? And he said unto them, Where the body is, thither will the eagles also be gathered together. (Luke 17:34-37)

Wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together. (Matthew 24:28)

But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief: (1 Thessalonians 5:4)

Read this next verse very carefully. Even though no one currently knows the exact timing of His return, we should know when we see things like the abomination of desolation.

Remember therefore how thou hast received and didst hear; and keep it, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee. (Revelation 3:3)

If you don’t watch, He will come upon you “as a thief” and you “shalt not know what hour.” Wouldn’t the opposite be true, if you watched?

Please read our post titled Biblical feasts are key to understanding the end times

But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what watch the thief was coming, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken through. (Matthew 24:43)

“had known in what watch the thief”

“What watch” means “which one” in Greek. We should know which one. Perhaps this is pointing to the feast (“feast” means “appointed time”).

The connections

(Behold, I come as a thief. (Revelation 16:15a)

But the day of the Lord will come as a thief; in the which the heavens shall pass away (2 Peter 3:10a)

The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the day of the Lord come, That great and notable day. (Acts 2:20)

For that day is a day of the Lord, Jehovah of hosts, a day of vengeance, (Jeremiah 46:10a)

For the day of vengeance was in my heart, and the year of my redeemed is come. (Isaiah 63:4)

But when these things begin to come to pass, look up, and lift up your heads; because your redemption draweth nigh. (Luke 21:28)

Witness of the connections

So man lieth down and riseth not: Till the heavens be no more, they shall not awake, Nor be roused out of their sleep. Oh that thou wouldest hide me in Sheol, That thou wouldest keep me secret, until thy wrath be past, That thou wouldest appoint me a set time, and remember me! (Job 14:12-13)

Again, this phrase “as a thief” we find after six bowls of God’s wrath have been poured out upon the wicked.

And the first went, and poured out his bowl into the Earth; (Revelation 16:2a)

And the second poured out his bowl into the sea; (Revelation 16:3a)

And the third poured out his bowl into the rivers (Revelation 16:4a)

And the fourth poured out his bowl upon the sun; (Revelation 16:8a)

And the fifth poured out his bowl upon the throne of the beast (Revelation 16:10a)

And the sixth poured out his bowl upon the great river, the river Euphrates (Revelation 16:12a)

(Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.) (Revelation 16:15)

“Blessed is he that watcheth”

But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief: for ye are all sons of light, and sons of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness; so then let us not sleep, as do the rest, but let us watch and be sober. (1 Thessalonians 5:4-6)

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