A Thief In The Night

“Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.” – Revelation 1:7

A mammoth disturbance of epic proportions overshadows the horizon. Comparable to a hurricane or cyclone of unimaginable power and ferocity, this crisis is the most severe to ever oppose creation. Although ferocious in severity, the storm’s approach is clandestine and gradual. There are many across the globe oblivious to the catastrophe about to collide with the world. A bias of normalcy settles over them, blinding their eyes to the most obvious of signs. A false security fills their hearts as the world steadily collapses around them, until the day the storm hits with overpowering force without warning. The inhabitants of the earth are caught completely by surprise, and none but those who follow our Lord shall escape.

My dear brothers and sisters in the Lord, take a moment to contemplate that which was just described. Do you know what this storm is? Believe it or not, we are nearing the last days of this earth’s history. The gargantuan crisis soon to slam against the world is the end of time, and ultimately the second coming of Jesus Christ. It is my firm belief that in our lifetime it will soon be time to make our exodus with our Lord and savior from this wicked world and go home. However there are many trials ahead of us. It is a most solemn statement I make that we shall be here on earth when that storm crashes against the world with overwhelming force.

Yet there are many among those who follow the monarch of the galaxies who believe otherwise. My dear friends, I could not stress this enough. A proper understanding of the warnings, counsels, and prophecies throughout scripture related to this subject is of vital importance. In particular, we most desperately need to understand the warnings pertaining to deception. In regards to these events we have been told by our Lord and savior, “Take heed that no man deceive you” – Matthew 24:4. This was the very first statement made by Jesus when questioned about the end of the world by his disciples. It should be clear to us that deception is a serious enough issue that we should be careful of what teachings we accept, and verify them by the word of God.

I therefore press my inquiry, are the popular teachings surrounding the second coming of Christ really Biblical? It would seem that many earnest followers of our Lord believe that just before the final crisis, the faithful will mysteriously disappear shortly before a brutal seven-year period of tribulation, which will end with the glorious appearing of our Lord and savior. Having searched the scriptures thoroughly on this topic, I have but one question on my mind. Who among you is capable of producing a text to substantiate this concept of a seven-year period of tribulation?

My dear friends, let us take a moment to contemplate this fact. If this concept is Biblical, then there should be a text somewhere within the scriptures to support it. Having checked through E-sword’s search engine, out of twenty-two passages where the word “tribulation” is used not one of them supports this concept. Those which are connected to final events do not in any way give a length of time, but are instead vague references.

In one such passage we read, “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.” – Matthew 24:21. Notice that this passage does not in any way provide a length of time, but instead references a time of great tribulation which will be far worse than anything that has ever come upon this world. The scriptures are very clear upon this point. As the last days of this earth’s history come to their close, there will be a time of great tribulation. It is an undeniable fact that there is a storm on the horizon. However, this period of seven years appears to have been conjured from thin air.

In the scriptures we are given plain directions as to how they are to be studied. We have been told, “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.” – 2 Peter 1:20. To gain a proper understanding of the scriptures, we must allow them to be their own interpreter. If we are to understand their true meaning than we must evade listening to those who spawn private interpretations rather than allowing the word of God to be it’s own expositor. This thought is effective in its complete annihilation of concepts generated from thin air, making this concept of a seven-year period of tribulation extra-biblical.

With this thought in mind, what else among the popular teachings previously mentioned are not found in the word of God? In my investigation of the matter, I have concluded that the entire chronology of events thus mentioned is incorrect. It is interesting to note that it is believed by most that there will be a secret coming, in which the faithful will disappear so that they do not have to endure the tribulation thus mentioned. This event is separated from the literal, visible, glorious appearing of our Lord and savior.

To my knowledge, there is but one group of passages used to support this thought. Jesus once said, “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.” – Matthew 24:40-41. The mysterious clandestine disappearance of the faithful across the world is read into these texts, as though that is what these passages are suggesting. Yet if we place these scriptures in their proper context and allow the word of God to explain itself, we find a very different story presented by these passages.

The three passages above Matthew 24:40-41 add the proper context to them, showing us just to what these passages are in reference. It has been said, “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.” – Matthew 24:37-39. These passages refer directly to the second coming of Jesus Christ. It is therefore illogical and an obvious placement of scripture outside of context to suggest that these passages refer to a separate secretive coming. It is interesting to note that as we take a look at how this event is described elsewhere in scripture, we see clearly that in no way do the faithful secretly disappear.

“For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” – 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17. My dear friend, pay very close attention to these passages. The rescue of the faithful from this world is not some secretive event in which the faithful mysteriously disappear. Instead those who follow the Lord are physically caught up to meet Jesus Christ in the air. In addition, I do not believe it is a stretch to make the statement that these are the loudest passages throughout the whole of scripture. There is nothing secretive about the deliverance of the faithful, nor is there anything anywhere throughout the whole of scripture to suggest a mysterious disappearance of those who follow the Lord.

These passages perfectly align with several scriptures in Matthew 24 which read, “And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other” – Matthew 24:30-31. The second coming and the deliverance of the faithful is an event which will be visible to the naked eye, and will be witnessed by the people of this world. They will not in any way miss this event, as they are described as mourning and wailing due to their lost state and they will very visibly witness Jesus coming in the clouds of heaven.

Previously noted, there are many who claim that the disappearance of the faithful is a separate event from the coming of the son of man. However, we once again find another situation in which an interpretation has been generated from thin air. There is not one text throughout the whole of scripture to support this theory. It is difficult to imagine an exhaustive search from one end of the Bible to the other yielding any results favorable to such an interpretation of scripture. This thought is more than likely as extra-biblical as the concept of the seven-year tribulation. In which case, than we know of at least two concepts among the popular teachings surrounding the second coming which have no foundation in God’s word. My dear friends, the second coming is one visible, glorious, event. We are nowhere told anywhere in scripture that Jesus will have a separate secret coming in which the faithful will disappear from the earth.

On top of these facts, the message conveyed by Matthew 24:37-41 altogether shows us that there will be two classes at the end of time. This was the case with the story of Noah, in which those who were saved were in the ark and those who were not were outside. The class outside the ark was caught completely by surprise and was destroyed as of result. In like manner, we are to always be ready for we are unaware of exactly when the final crisis will slam against this earth. These passages are meant to convey the thought that the final events will catch most off guard and that one class of the world will be saved while the other will be lost.

Elsewhere in scripture, Jesus made similar statements which in comparison place these texts in their proper meaning. “I tell you, in that night there shall be two men in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left. Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left. And they answered and said unto him, Where, Lord? And he said unto them, Wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together.” – Luke 17:37. This statement about eagles gathered around a body is reminiscent of a scene in which vultures feast upon a corpse. For Jesus to use a picture like this in answer to the question of ‘where will they be taken’ suggests to me that I would most certainly hope to avoid such a fate. The Bible is clear on this point. One is saved, and the other is lost.

The interpretation provided in the scriptures for the parable of the wheat and the tares further illustrates this fact to us. These passages read, “The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth” – Matthew 13:39-42.  In the parable of the wheat and the tares, Jesus spoke of two classes. Those who are saved and those who are lost. The placement of this event at the end of time shows to us very clearly that there will be a class who will be ‘taken’ and placed in a furnace of fire. My friend, I do not know how you feel about it but I’m starting to get the idea that being ‘taken’ is not a good thing.

Yet there are still more important facts illustrated by the interpretation of this parable. There are many who believe the world will continue on for a time after a supposed secretive disappearance of the faithful. We have already plainly established that there will be only one second coming. In which case, this passage here in very plain language conveys to us the fact that those in the world will be destroyed at the time of the second coming. The message thus given is identical to one later conveyed by Paul which reads, “And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;” – 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9.

If Jesus is to take vengeance on the world at the time of the second coming, than it is therefore logical to conclude that this world will not continue on after the appearing of our Lord. The mere fact that the inhabitants of the earth are described as ‘wailing’ and ‘mourning’ indicates that they are aware of their fate, and is further evidence of their total destruction. With this thought in mind, it should be obvious to us that the popular chronology of events is a complete fallacy. It is an absolute impossibility for a period of tribulation to be taking place after the second coming with the world left in an utterly destroyed state and no one left alive on this world to endure it.

It is therefore logical to conclude that the tribulation thus mentioned in Matthew 24:21 takes place prior to the second coming. Yet we find further evidence of this fact in scripture as set down by the following passages, “Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” – Matthew 24:29-31. My dear friends, take notice of the rapid fire succession of events alongside the placement of the tribulation. According to these passages, it must take place prior to the second coming. In addition, the gathering of the elect does not take place until after that time.

It should be very clear to us that the faithful will ride out the tribulation of the last days before final deliverance. This fact is further illustrated to us elsewhere in scripture. Speaking of the final events Jesus once said, “But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved” – Matthew 24:13. This statement is a promise for those who endure until the very end. It places the fact that the faithful will ride out the events of the last days on display. Why else would this statement have been made by Jesus?

Now you might be thinking, “what of the text in the Bible which says he will come as a thief in the night?” Would such a passage not prove that the faithful will secretly disappear? Let us take a close look at one such passage in the scriptures where this message is conveyed, that we might see if such a conclusion holds any water. “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” – 1 Thessalonians 5:2-3.

Paying careful attention to these passages, we can see clearly that they are not meant to convey that the second coming will be a secret but rather that the entire world will be caught by surprise. Many throughout both Christendom and the world will slip into a state of ‘normalcy bias’, reasoning that since things appear to continue on as they have always been absolutely nothing will happen. Messages literally bearing the mark of ‘peace and safety’ will go out across the world, the inhabitants of the earth acting as though nothing is wrong in the face of clear warnings. It is then that the final crisis slams against the earth, catching all who were not watching for the second coming by complete surprise.

Is it not therefore important to watch for the second coming, and live in an attitude of expectancy that we may not be caught by surprise? The scriptures are filled with warnings to watch, one such found back in Matthew 24. It has been said, “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” – Matthew 24:45-51.

In these passages, there is one key point that in all reality conveys to us the danger of these popular teachings. Note that the evil servant said in his heart, “My lord delayeth his coming”. He no longer watched for the coming of his master, and even began to do as he pleased. As of result he was caught completely by surprise and was lost. In like manner, if we are to put off the second coming in any way, neglect to live in expectancy, and walk away from living a holy life on the grounds that ‘we may still have time to get it right later’ we will not be saved. Unfortunately the popular teachings of today actually place us in a position where we may do just that.

It is often taught that those who are left behind at the time when the faithful disappear will have a second chance. This thought is actually sufficient to cause a man to cease watchfulness in view of the second coming, and to walk away from living a holy life on the grounds that he will have seven more years to get it right during the last days. However, this teaching has no foundation anywhere in the word of God. The above warning shows us that this thought is actually sufficient to cause a man to lose out on his salvation.

In addition, we are told back in 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9 that Jesus will be taking vengeance on those who obey not the gospel at the time of the second coming. We may therefore logically conclude that no one will have a second chance, whether they are in the world or the Church. As Christians we need to be ready for our earthly history to close today, that is a preparation which we cannot in any way put off lest we find ourselves in a rather serious predicament.

Some feel that the fact we are to be on earth during the coming storm is a point of fear, as though we as Christians have something to be afraid of. However, the scriptures are loaded with promises of grace and protection. These promises are applicable in your daily life from now all the way to the end of time. Is it reasonable to believe that they will not be fulfilled to us during the final events of Bible prophecy? We are told nowhere in the scriptures that we will be left to our own devices to stand without aid from our Father in Heaven. Jesus himself once said, “and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen” – Matthew 28:20.

Not only has our Lord and savior promised to be with us to the end of this world, but elsewhere God has promised to form a shield around us in times of danger. It has been said, “A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee. Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked. Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.” – Psalms 91:7-10. Although thousands may be dying all around you, the Lord has promised you shielding that you might be in safety. Even though we shall be present during the final crisis, we will be protected by God and given all the grace to meet whatever trials we may be confronted with.

In all reality these popular teachings of the second coming have no foundation in the word of God. We must therefore cast them off and study the word of God for ourselves, that we might come to a proper understanding of the crisis that looms over the horizon. My dear friends, if you hold to popular teachings surrounding last day events than it is my most earnest appeal that you might abandon them. I could not beg of you more to consider an earnest and prayerful search of the scriptures, that you might see these things in their proper light. Let it be your prayer that if there are any other popular false teachings propagandized from the pulpits of today that you might have spiritual discernment to see right through them.

To The Testimony

“To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them. ” – Isaiah 8:20

Our enemy never sleeps. Always on our track, the adversary of souls with cunning craftiness plies all of his deceptive arts against the people of the Lord. Every instrument of warfare the enemy is capable of mustering is turned on the Church, that it may be destroyed from the inside out. One volley after another of deception and falsehood is hurled at the Lord’s most earnest children, that he may cause their ruin. Propagandized from the pulpits of the land by instruments of the enemy, smooth fables are fed to the people by the spoon-load.

My dear brothers and sisters in the Lord, I implore you to carefully consider this matter. By nature deception is slick and smooth. Were the enemy of all righteousness to outright approach you, offering you pills of cyanide, few would accept or listen to his proposal. In like manner, were the puppets of the enemy to outright proclaim that sin is an okay thing or that the devil is not real few in the Christian world would readily receive such fables. However, were the true character of these fables to be cloaked and coated with sugar the congregations of the land would feast upon them.

When the true character of such teachings is concealed, that it may not be detected by the scrutiny of the casual observer; than there are few who would readily discern their deceptive nature. It is only by the test of the word of God that we may be enabled to see the hideous monstrosities of false teaching beneath their deceptive guise. My dear friends, we must be diligent students of the word that we may more easily detect the deceptions of the enemy. Unless we possess a keen familiarity with our Bibles, we may find ourselves in a position where we are unable detect deception. In which case we would therefore find ourselves much more inclined to accept and believe the worst of fables.

It is important then not only that we become well-acquainted with our Bibles, but also that we study the word of God for ourselves. The testimony of Scripture upon this point is very plain. We are not to rely on or trust in men to show us what is truth. We must be prepared to search for and find the answers for ourselves from the word of God, placing our trust in no one but God alone. It has been said, “Thus saith the Lord; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord.” – Jeremiah 17:5.

My dear friend, let us take a moment to think about the above passage of Scripture. What does it mean to “make flesh our arm?” When we lean upon God, we make him our arm. We are dependent on him and trusting in him. When we have made flesh our arm, we have done the opposite of that which we should do. Instead of placing our trust and dependence on God, we have placed it on men. There is a curse pronounced upon those who do this. Yet the question remains, why is there such a curse? Consider sinful man with all his frailties and weaknesses. The idea of infallibility attributed to a man is an utter impossibility. With this fact in mind, it is clear that men are capable of making mistakes. Yet even worse is the thought that men are just as capable of wickedness as they are mistakes, in which case you never know when men lie.

Since there are no specific effects mentioned with this particular curse in question, it is logical to conclude that this thought is in reference more to the consequences of trusting in men. In which case, this particular passage is a very solemn warning in regards to placing your trust in man. It is clear than that if you do this, you will reap the consequences of your actions. Men will lie to you and fail you. While this particular passage of Scripture in question is a strong warning against looking to men for anything, it is also logical to conclude that it covers receiving all of your instruction strictly from men. In light of such a warning, do we rely upon men to teach the Bible to us or do we study it for ourselves?

Make no mistake, there is no evil in studying together or with some one else. It is my firm belief that we as Christians should gather together to search the word of God. Yet if we study with a friend and they bring to us strange teachings, do we believe every word without searching the Bible for ourselves? It has been said in the book of Proverbs, “The simple believeth every word: but the prudent man looketh well to his going.” – Proverbs 14:15. My friends, we must not trust in and believe every single word that comes from the mouth of anyone. Whoever they may be, whatever position they may hold in the Church, however close a friend we may consider them, or whatever title may be attached to their name, we can never trust in the words of men and expect to be in safe paths.

The passage of Isaiah 8:20 is a test applicable to a wide variety of circumstances and situations. Were some one to come to you claiming to be a prophet of the Lord, they would have to meet the criteria given in this passage in order to pass the test. Their teachings and claims would need to be in harmony with the word of God. In like manner, the test given in this passage of Scripture is sufficient to detect wolves in sheep’s clothing. If the teachings of such individuals are not in harmony with the word of God, than they are obviously false.

As if the threat of false teachers itself were not solemn enough, the testimony of Scripture has left us with a sobering example of that which we face. When Jesus was tempted in the wilderness for the second time, Satan quoted scripture at him. This suggests that the enemy of all righteousness is familiar with the Bible. I find myself wondering if Satan is a more diligent Bible student than we are. Take a moment to ponder this thought. What advantages would a familiarity with Scripture afford to the enemy? How important than is a diligent search of the Scriptures, that we may detect Satan’s devices?

Yet it would seem that so few study their Bibles regularly, and so many are too trusting of the words of men. My dear friends, my heart aches as I contemplate this fact. As Christians we should be prepared to test everything by the word of God. Yet if our Bibles are rarely studied, how is it that we may do this? It would seem our ability to put any teaching brought to us to the test would fall short of our reach. It is imperative not only that we study our Bibles diligently on a regular basis, but that we obtain a preparation to test everything by the word of God that we not slip into a state of spiritual laxity.

The importance of diligent watchfulness in these matters is increased by some of the warnings in regard to the last days within Scripture. The very first thing that Jesus told his disciples when speaking upon the subject of his second coming was, “Take heed that no man deceive you.” – Matthew 24:4. In light of this statement, how important is it to beware of that which men teach us? If deception is a great enough threat in the last days for our Lord and savior to make this statement, then we must be on our guard and test the sayings and teachings of men by the word.

In his second epistle to the Thessalonians, Paul makes the following sobering statement. “And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,” – 2 Thessalonians 2:8-9.  Whose coming are these passages in reference to? Paying close attention to the structure of these passages, 2 Thessalonians 2:9 is a very clear reference to the second coming of Christ. This is especially evident when read in connection with the previous verse, in which the last event mentioned is the destruction of the antichrist power by the “brightness of his coming.”

With this thought in mind, we see very clearly that the second coming of Christ takes place after the working of Satan with all “power and signs and lying wonders.” The implications of this phrase are startling. These words in of themselves are mighty. They strike with overwhelming force and imply that the deceptions of the last days are beyond measure. It should be clear to us that the deceptions of the last days will be sufficient to sweep up anyone who is not making Christ their defense during that time, yet if we are not thoroughly grounded in our Bibles and Satan is a superior student of the word than we are than we are certainly in trouble.

It is urgent that we as Christians become well conversant with our Bibles and that we be spiritually awake, that we might detect deception. Especially should we be prepared to bring everything bearing the mark of ‘new light’ to the test of the word of God. There is no light in that which has no foundation in the teachings of the Scriptures, and therefore such things must be rejected. Even miracles and those who seem to perform them should be put to the test of the word, that we might discern their true character. The above passage speaks to us of one day in which Satan will employ the miraculous in an effort to lead the world captive. We cannot safely trust to the apparently miraculous for guidance, for we know not the source of such phenomenon until it is brought to the test of the word of God.

My dear friends, it is my most earnest appeal that you trust in the Lord alone, search the Scriptures for yourselves, and stand on nothing but a plain “Thus saith the Lord.” Let us all diligently obtain a preparation to test everything by the “law and the testimony.”