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To come as a thief in the night simply means to come at a time when no one is expecting you.  A thief often does his dirty work in the middle of the night when everyone is asleep and not watching for him.  Let’s look at a couple of verses that refer to a coming that is like a thief in the night.  1 Thessalonians 5:2 says, “For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.”  Then, 2 Peter 3:10 says, “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.”  The coming that these verses refer to is the day of the Lord.  What is the ‘day of the Lord’?  As you can see, it will be a very catastrophic event with great noise and fervent heat.  This is how Joel describes the day of the Lord in Joel 2:31, “The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come.”  The term, ‘the day of the Lord’ is used 23 times in the scripture: 18 times in the Old Testament and 5 times in the New Testament.  Each time it refers to a terrible day of destruction.  The Lord, Himself, says in Revelation 16:15, “Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.”

First of all, this coming of the Lord is not referring to the rapture.  The rapture is a time when the Lord will come to the air and take His bride home.  Let’s read that account in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.  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. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.”  In this coming of the Lord, we read nothing about destruction, fervent heat, darkness, or the moon being turned into blood.

The rapture is a day when the Lord will come to take His people away from the earth and into the blessings of being with Him in the Glory.  The rapture will be followed by a seven-year period of world-wide tribulation, ending with ‘the day of the Lord’ in which the Lord will come to the earth in judgment against all those who oppose Him.  The judgment of the sheep and the goats in Matthew 25:31-46 ties in closely with this.  Isaiah 13:9 says, “Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it.”  Without reading the scriptures carefully and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, it is very easy to confuse the rapture with the day of the Lord.

I encourage you to read Matthew 25:31-46.  This describes in detail how that some will enter the Lord’s kingdom on earth, while those that have rejected the Lord will be taken away to enter into everlasting fire.

Before the day of the Lord, the rapture will occur; that glorious day when the Lord will take His children home to be with Himself.  Dear listener, are you ready to go if the Lord should come today?  If not, let me remind you of the words of the words of the Lord in 2 Corinthians 6:2, “…behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”