1Thess. 5:2-3 For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.The above scriptures teach us that the coming of the day of the Lord is as a thief. But what aspect of a thief's coming are we supposed to understand in these verses? When we think of thief coming, we think of several things. There is the idea of a thief having come and gone, and nobody saw the thief steal the articles he stole. We are left to discover later, after the thief has come and gone, that something is missing in our homes. There must have been a thief!
2 Peter 3:10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the 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.
Then there is the aspect of the unexpectedness of a thief's arrival. Nobody knows when a thief will come, because the thief wants to successfully rob a person. Announcing his time of coming would ruin his opportunity to steal anything.
Which of the above scenarios are the two scriptures we quoted trying to convey?
The popular Pre-Tribulation rapture interpretation of prophecy promotes the first scenario. they teach that a secret coming leaves nobody having known the time that thief came or went, and the aspect of wondering what happened to some articles that are suddenly not present. People will be left in the world and will notice that their loved ones are gone. Why are they gone? When did they go? They believe that the reference to the Lord's coming as a thief in the night refers to a secret, silent stealing away of the church.
But this is not the aspect of a thief that we are supposed to think about when we read the details of the words involved in the scriptures. The element that we are supposed to think about is not the thief's hidden coming, but the unexpected time element when the thief comes. Nobody knows what time the thief will come.
That does not mean that we will not see the thief when he comes, but we just did not expect him. So, in other words, everyone may see the thief come, but not everyone expected him to come when he did, and they are caiught offguard, having had no time to prepare for his coming that they might not be robbed. This is the aspect of the thief that we are supposed to think about when we read of Jesus' return. I can prove it. Watch these verses and notice this very stress in Jesus' own words:
Matthew 24:36-39 But of that day and hour knoweth no [man], no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. But as the days of Noe [were], so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.This says that everyone saw the flood come, but they did not expect it to come when it did. Actually they did not expect it to come at all. Now, this is speaking of the sinners. Noah knew it would come. But the world did not. They would not believe it would come. So the flood did not come secretly and steal Noah away. Everyone in the world saw it when it came. So it is the time element that is in question when we read about the thief's coming.
Watch this also:
Matthew 24:39-41 And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two [women shall be] grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.People take these verses and say this proves people will simply disappear in the midst of sinners who remain. But that is wrong. The flood came and took certain people away. Who were the people in question whom the flood took away?
Matt 24:38-39 For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.The sinners were taken by the flood when they were eating and drinking, etc., instead of getting ready like Noah. And that is the way it is going to be at the end. Since the sinners were taken in Noah's day in destruction, the sinners are the ones who are taken when two are in the field and the one is taken. You have to find out who was taken in Noah's day to see who is taken in the time of the end. And the sinners were taken in Noah's day.
Matthew 24:43-44 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.And this says that the issue was what watch the thief would come. If the goodman knew the time in which the thief would come, he would not have seen his house ransacked. That does not mean he did not see the thief when the thief came, but rather he saw him but did not expect the thief to come. That is why we read verse 44. Jesus came in 70 AD in wrath upon Jerusalem using Rome's armies as God often used Armies of the heathen to come against Israel when they dwelt in apostasy. Everyone saw the destruction, but not everyone expected it, because only the Church believed His Word and looked for him to come in wrath.
Matthew 10:23 But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come.This was told to the very people to whom Jesus spoke. They would not have gone over all the cities of Israel til the Son of man came. He came in their day, before they went over all the cities of Israel, in wrath against Jerusalem.
Please check out the following studies I have made:
The Church in Great Tribulation?
2 Thessalonians and the Rapture
70 Weeks of Daniel 9 - Is the Seventieth Week of Daniel Still to Come?