The End Will Come Unexpectedly Like a Thief in the Night
John’s epic vision that he records in the book of Revelation includes many perplexing allusions. One is a warning that Jesus will return unexpectedly, like a thief (Revelation 16:15).
Note that this doesn’t say Jesus is a thief, merely that most people won’t be expecting his arrival, as is the case of a robber coming in the middle of the night.
We should give this reference serious consideration because it also occurs elsewhere in the Bible, not just in John’s Revelation where so much of the content is figurative and not literal.
First, Jesus implies this about himself, which Matthew records in his biography of Jesus. Here Jesus says that if a homeowner knew when his house would be broken into, he would have been on the lookout and taken steps to prevent a robbery (Matthew 24:43).
The lesson is that even though we don’t know when the end will take place, we should be alert and ready.
Next, Paul, in writing to his friends in the church in Thessalonica, reminds them that no one knows when Jesus will come back, not the season or the date. It’s going to be a surprise, much like a thief breaking in under the cover of darkness (1 Thessalonians 5:1-2).
Jesus Will Return Unexpectedly
Again, we must remember that Jesus isn’t coming as a thief to steal—the enemy does that (John 10:10). The point is that Jesus will return unexpectedly. In Revelation, John advises us that we should be alert and ready for whenever this surprise return occurs.
And what’s the outcome if we aren’t ready? It isn’t condemnation, and it isn’t being left behind; it’s being embarrassed.
I don’t want to face embarrassment over not being ready when Jesus returns. It may be in my lifetime, or it may not, but that doesn’t mean I’m not on the lookout for the possibility of it occurring.
Are We Ready?
If we follow Jesus, we must be ready for him when he comes again. We don’t know when it will occur, but we do know it will happen.
Read more in Peter’s devotional Bible study, A New Heaven and a New Earth: 40 Practical Insights from John’s Book of Revelation.
Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.