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Rays of Light Bible Lessons by Keith Holder

AS A THIEF IN THE NIGHT

1 Thess 5:1-5 But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. 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. But 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.

Previous to the lesson text, Paul described the Day of Judgment, as it would take place, for all faithful Christians. This he did because of their lack of knowledge about that great and glorious day when our Lord Jesus Christ would return to gather together His body, the church, and return with them into their eternal home in heaven. With this complete understanding of earth's last day before them, Paul said that they were to comfort one another. There is little doubt that the Christians of Thessalonica expected the Lord's return, for this wonderful event, in the immediate future. They probably expected Christ to come again within their lifetime, and questioned Paul about exactly when it would take place. It is this question that Paul addresses in the lesson text.

That Jesus Christ would come again, they were assured by Paul. With this in mind, the following question they asked of him was, "When would this day come?" Paul's answer began with this statement: But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. This was the only answer Paul could give them. He could only teach them what had been revealed to him by God, through His Holy Spirit. When this day would come was a mystery to him at that time, and it is still unknown to us today. This was the same answer Jesus gave His Apostles, when He met with them after His crucifixion, burial, and resurrection, but before His ascension back into heaven. Regarding the founding of His kingdom, the church of Christ, Luke wrote: When they therefore were come together, they asked of Him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And He said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in His own power (Acts 1:6-7).

Certain times have not been revealed to mankind. God's timetable for mankind has been, and will continue to be, revealed by Him at His pleasure, at the appropriate time He sees fit to do so, and when it is necessary for mankind to have such knowledge. For instance, from birth, no one knows the day of his or her death. Life may cease within the year of one's birth or it may last for a millennium. It, like the second coming of Jesus, is unknown to mankind; both will come unexpectedly. To the Thessalonian Christians, Paul assured them that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.

The time and the day when the Son of God shall descend to claim His faithful and obedient followers, will be as sudden and unexpected as a thief breaks in unannounced to steal that which belongs to another. Jesus, Himself, used this analogy in one of His parables. He said that if the goodman of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through (Luke 12:39). In this parable Jesus teaches Christians to be faithful servants of God. They are not to be good servants, only in the last days of their life on earth, but they are to be obedient to His will at all times, as if they were watching for His coming at any moment of their lives (See Luke 12:37-46).

Members of the church of Christ are never to become smug or complacent about their spiritual lives. They are never to become secure in their minds, as those outside the body of Christ. Many have no fear of God. They lack of knowledge, concerning His plan of eternal salvation and destruction, which awaits all mankind. Paul indicates that the world, in every age, has been, and will be, filled with men and women, who live in spiritual darkness. Some will be blinded by totally refusing to accept the will of God; others will be blinded by the ungodly doctrine of false teachers, that are prevalent throughout the world. These will have no concern about his or her spiritual peace and safety. Of these, Paul says that there will be an inescapable sudden destruction (that) cometh upon them.

However, of faithful, obedient children of God, Paul says, But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. The Lord will come. Assuredly, we know not when! Therefore, be watchful that Satan does not steal your soul as a thief in the night!