Let’s read 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.”  1 Thessalonians 5:2 similarly describes this day.  “For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.” 

The Rapture is a joyful event that believers should understand and long for.  We read in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, “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.”  This is the glad expectation of all true believers.  As believers on the Lord Jesus Christ, we find comfort in these words and long for that blessed day when the Lord Jesus will return to the air to receive His own to take them to glory to be with Himself.  “The dead in Christ shall rise first” refers to those believers who have passed away.  When a believer dies, he/she is instantly in the presence of the Lord as we read in 2 Corinthians 5:8, “We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.”  While the body is in the grave, the soul and spirit of the believer is with the Lord.  At the rapture of the church, those who are with the Lord will return with Him, their bodies will be raised and rejoined with their soul and spirit.  Along with all the believers alive at that time, we will return to Glory with our body, soul, and spirit.

In the Day of the Lord, we read about “A thief in the night.”  “Fervent heat.”  “Burned up.”  The day of the Lord is the day of God’s judgment on the earth.  It will not be a pleasant event for the Lord will move in absolute judgment against those who rejected Him.  At the rapture, the Lord does not come as “a thief in the night.”  This gives the thought of an unwanted intrusion.  When the Lord returns to the earth at the end of the Tribulation period, His appearance will take many by surprise.  He comes with righteous anger and His actions will surely be unwelcome by those who had rejected Him as their savior. 

The Thessalonians had been told that the Day of the Lord had already occurred.  We read in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-2, “Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, regarding the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, that you not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit, or a message, or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come.” (NASB).  Paul, the apostle goes on to say that the Day of the Lord CANNOT happen until the apostacy occurs and the ‘man of lawlessness’ (the Antichrist) is revealed.  Verses 3-4 tell us, “No one is to deceive you in any way! For it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God.” (NASB).  All this points us to the truth that the Day of The Lord begins at the end of the seven-year Tribulation period when the Lord returns in judgment and to set up His millennial kingdom. 

We have a stark description of the Day of the Lord in Joel 2:1-2, “Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the LORD cometh, for it is nigh at hand; A day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness, as the morning spread upon the mountains: a great people and a strong; there hath not been ever the like, neither shall be any more after it, even to the years of many generations.” What a terrible day that will be. 

Dear reader, are you a believer on the Lord Jesus Christ?  Have you trusted Him as your savior?  If so, your blessed anticipation is to wait for the Lord to return to receive His own as we read about in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.  You DO NOT want to be involved in the Day of the Lord when He returns to the earth to act in absolute condemnation and righteous judgment towards those who have rejected Him.  At that time, there will be no grace…only judgment. 

Let us close by examining the difference between the lost and the saved when the Lord returns to the earth.  We read in Malachi 4:1-2, “For behold, the day cometh, burning as a furnace; and all the proud and all that work wickedness shall be stubble; and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith Jehovah of hosts, so that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. And unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth and leap like fatted calves.”  (CC)  (528.6)