Jesus, The Thief In The Night
“Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming..For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will.” – Matthew 24: 42,44.
In the movie “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” the two main characters Neal Page and Del Griffith, after a stormy evening, finally get to bed in their motel room. Once the two fall asleep a thief in the night breaks into their room and steals all the cash in their wallets.
Not only do Neal and Del not wake up during the burglary they don’t realize their loss of money until after breakfast.
The Bible says the rapture of the church will occur like a thief in the night. An interpretation of this could say that one will not know until morning or even later. After all, isn’t that how a thief in the night works?
In my on again off again relationship with the idea of the rapture I have recently dived into prophecy and an attempt to nail down the truth of the rapture. I used to fear the rapture probably from those crazy videos my high school Bible teacher showed in class. Then I embraced it as my faith developed.
Then I wondered whether it was simply a western, first world Christian’s attempt at finding hope that their comfort level in this life would quickly and instantly melt into the heavenly presence of Jesus Christ.
Admittedly, we have it pretty good in the United States and we don’t like pain and suffering.
Therefore, I doubled down and began my research which mostly involved the sermons of respected pastors who dared tackle this difficult subject. I even read the book of Revelation. Out loud. My current church has not addressed prophecy, the rapture or the tribulation – subjects I have wished my pastor would discuss. After listening to others and reading the Bible this feels like an oversight on their part. Paul says “do not be ignorant about these things…”
I know many churches avoid this subject and probably for good reason. It’s a hard topic with differing opinions and End Times talk sounds a bit far-fetched, more akin to a sci-fi movie. But Hollywood, of all things, tackled the rapture. A number of movies in the last decade addressed the sudden disappearance of millions of people around the world based on Biblical prophecy. In other words, Christians and their belief in the rapture.
My interest in the rapture got me thinking about how it would happen. Just so you know, I adhere to a pre-tribulation rapture of the church. And after listening to multiple sermons by several pastors this not only makes the most sense but can be backed up Biblically. The Bible says to look for Jesus. But if the rapture is at any time during or after the tribulation then we look for anti-Christ and, as such, today we can safely say He will not come tonight if you subscribe to a mid-trib, -post-trib or a no rapture point of view.
So just exactly how will millions of Christians disappear like a thief in the night?
Will the snatching up of a believing airline pilot leave hundreds in jeopardy? Will the Christian in a conference room suddenly disappear in the middle of a meeting? Certainly. In fact, Jesus says in Matthew “Two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left.”
A literal interpretation of this scenario makes a case for the “traditional” idea of the rapture and that propagated in movies. It could also offer a final “departing” testimony as the knowledge of those suddenly disappearing to be Christian would take a rather quick foothold. “Oh, maybe they were right…,” some might say.
However, many scholars believe this passage refers to the second coming of Christ not the rapture.
Therefore, I wonder if those who remain will have no idea of the missing Christians until much later like Neal and Del not realizing they had been robbed after they needed money to pay for breakfast.
On September 11, 2001 the world was glued to their TV sets. Air traffic around the globe was grounded. The world had forever changed.
On my street I go weeks, sometimes months without seeing my neighbors especially in the winter season. Most folks huddle in doors and unless you catch someone taking their trash cans to the street or getting the mail you don’t see much of anybody. Sometimes I find out the family next door went on vacation – days after they got back. In many respects, I could disappear for a long time without anyone ever noticing.
So, what would happen if the United States endured another 9-11, but worse, leaving all air traffic on the ground and everyone inside their homes to witness history unfolding? Or how about a cataclysmic natural disaster that renders all telecommunications useless preventing travel and keeping employees from getting to work.
Then millions disappeared.
A week or so later when those left behind crawled their way out of the figurative rubble of disaster they would slowly put their lives back together, go to work and might not even think twice about their neighbors, co-employees or anyone else gone missing. Until they needed them.
Slowly but surely word would spread. Neighbors and co-employees, friends and family members – missing. Gone without a trace. No downed planes or driverless cars to let everyone know a thief was among them. Just people missing. Where did they go? When was the last time someone saw them? How did this happen without anyone knowing?
Like a thief in the night.
No one knows when He will come. Nor will many know He has come.
And when they do, it will be too late.