"COMING AS A THIEF"
Intro. God's judgments are just about over. The seven bowls of God's wrath will complete the judgements of God upon the earth. The angels have already poured out six of the seven bowls. There is only one bowl left, which will bring the great battle of Armageddon. Jesus will return to the earth with His church during the time that the battle will be taking place. Here in the interval between the sixth and seventh bowl:
I. THE LORD ANNOUNCES THAT HE IS COMING AS A THIEF.
A. Both Paul and Peter tell us that the day of the Lord is coming as a thief in the night.
For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.
But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.
B. Jesus said that if the goodman of the house knew in what hour the thief was coming he would not have allowed his house to be broken into.
C. The analogy of His coming as a thief is for the purpose of causing us to be watchful.
1. Paul said to the Thessalonians that:
Ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.
Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.
Therefore let us not sleep, as [do] others; but let us watch and be sober.
II. "BLESSED IS HE THAT WATCHETH." THE WHOLE BACKGROUND IS THAT OF A WEDDING THAT IS COMING. THE CHURCH THE BRIDE IS TO BE MARRIED TO JESUS THE GROOM. HE WILL BE COMING ONE DAY FOR HIS BRIDE. IT IS IN THE EASTERN SETTING, AND OUR WESTERN MINDS DO NOT GRASP ALL OF THE ANALOGIES UNLESS WE SEE THEM IN THE EASTERN SETTING. DR. J. ALEXANDER FINDLAY TELLS OF WHAT HE HIMSELF SAW IN PALESTINE. HE WRITES: "WHEN WE WERE APPROACHING THE GATES OF A GALILAEAN TOWN, "I CAUGHT A SIGHT OF TEN MAIDENS GAILY CLAD AND PLAYING SOME KIND OF MUSICAL INSTRUMENT, AS THEY DANCED ALONG THE ROAD IN FRONT OF OUR CAR; WHEN I ASKED WHAT THEY WERE DOING, THE GUIDE TOLD ME THAT THEY WERE GOING TO KEEP THE BRIDE COMPANY TILL HER BRIDEGROOM ARRIVED. I ASKED HIM IF THERE WAS ANY CHANCE OF SEEING THE WEDDING, BUT HE SHOOK HIS HEAD, SAYING IN EFFECT: 'IT MIGHT BE TONIGHT, OR TOMORROW NIGHT, OR IN A FORTNIGHT'S TIME; NOBODY EVER KNOWS FOR CERTAIN.' THEN HE WENT ON TO EXPLAIN THAT ONE OF THE GREAT THINGS TO
DO, IF YOU COULD, AT A MIDDLE-CLASS WEDDING IN PALESTINE WAS TO CATCH THE BRIDAL PARTY NAPPING. SO THE BRIDEGROOM COMES UNEXPECTEDLY, AND SOMETIMES IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT; IT IS TRUE THAT HE IS REQUIRED BY PUBLIC OPINION TO SEND A MAN ALONG THE STREET TO SHOUT: 'BEHOLD! THE BRIDEGROOM IS COMING!' BUT THAT MAY HAPPEN AT ANY TIME; SO THE BRIDAL PARTY HAVE TO BE READY TO GO OUT INTO THE STREET AT ANY TIME TO MEET HIM, WHENEVER HE CHOOSES TO COME... OTHER IMPORTANT POINTS ARE THAT NO ONE IS ALLOWED ON THE STREETS AFTER DARK WITHOUT A LIGHTED LAMP, AND ALSO THAT, WHEN THE BRIDEGROOM HAS ONCE ARRIVED, AND THE DOOR HAS BEEN SHUT, LATE-COMERS TO THE CEREMONY ARE NOT ADMITTED."
A. Over and over Jesus has exhorted us to be watching and be ready for His return.
Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.
But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up.
Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.
Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season?
Blessed [is] that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing.
Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods.
But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming;
And shall begin to smite [his] fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken;
The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for [him], and in an hour that he is not aware of,
And shall cut him asunder, and appoint [him] his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom.
And five of them were wise, and five [were] foolish.
They that [were] foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them:
But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.
While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.
And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.
Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps.
And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.
But the wise answered, saying, [Not so]; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.
And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut.
Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us.
But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not.
Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.
Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning:
Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping.
And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.
And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and [so] that day come upon you unawares.
For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth.
Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.
B. In these passages we see many things that would cause us to miss the rapture of the church.
1. The attitude that the Lord is delaying His coming.
a. I have plenty of time to get ready, I am going to just live it up for a while.
b. What happened with that servant? The Lord appointed him a place with the hypocrites where there was weeping and gnashing of teeth.
2. Not having a sufficient supply of oil. The lamps went out. Has your lamp gone out, or is it in danger of going out?
a. Jesus said, "Let your loins be girded, and your lamps burning."
b. I have seen many once fervent Christians whose light has apparently gone out.
c. What was the consequence for the foolish virgins? They were denied entrance into the wedding.
3. Becoming snared with the things of the world. Surfeiting, drunkenness, the cares of this life. The day find you unprepared.
a. You have become uninterested in the things of the Lord, and have begun to try to fill the void in your life with other things.
III. WHAT IS MEANT BY "KEEPETH HIS GARMENTS?".
A. We are clothed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ.
1. Paul wrote that his desire was to be found in Christ, not having his own righteousness, but the righteousness which was by faith in Jesus Christ.
2. Adam and Eve sought to cover their nakedness by sewing fig leaves, God gave to them coats of skins to cover their nakedness.
3. The prophet Isaiah said:
I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh [himself] with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth [herself] with her jewels.
4. In chapter 19 or Revelation we read:
Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.
And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.
5. It is only the righteousness of Jesus Christ that will be accepted in heaven.
a. Jesus said that when the Holy Spirit came, He would testify of sin, of righteousness and judgment to come. Of sin, because they do not believe in Me. Or righteousness, because I ascend to the Father. The ascension of Jesus into heaven was a declaration by God, that this is the righteousness that will be accepted.
b. Jesus gave another parable of a man attending the wedding without the proper wedding garments in Matthew.
And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment:
And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless.
Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast [him] into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
B. Many today as Adam and Eve are trying to cover the guilt of their sins with their own works. The prophet Jeremiah said that our righteousness is as filthy rags in the sight of God. They can never put away the guilt of your sin. At the judgment they will be stripped and your sins will be revealed for all to see. This is what is meant by he walk naked and be ashamed.
1. In Hebrews we read:
Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things [are] naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.
2. John wrote,
And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming.
3. The secret is abiding in Christ, Jesus said:
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.
I am the vine, ye [are] the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast [them] into the fire, and they are burned.