Like A Thief
I want to prove to you with Scripture that we can know the season of the Lord’s return. Let’s begin with the letters that Paul wrote to the Thessalonian church, and let’s start with 1 Thessalonians, chapter 5, verse 1. I want to show you proof positive that we can know the season of the Lord’s return. The passage reads as follows: “Now as to the times and seasons, brethren, you have no need of anything to be written to you. For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night.” There’s that statement I talked about earlier. He’s coming “like a thief in the night.” Verse 3 says it will occur while people are saying, “Peace and safety!” At that time, Paul says, “Destruction will come upon them suddenly like birth pangs upon a woman with child, and they shall not escape.”
The fundamental point I’m leading up to is found in verse 4. Underline it in your Bible. Don’t ever forget it. This is the crucial verse. The verse proves beyond a doubt that you and I can know the season of the Lord’s return. The verse, 1 Thessalonians 5:4, says “But you brethren, believers, are not in darkness, that the day should overtake you like a thief; for you are sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness; so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober.”
Now, what is that saying? Paul is saying Jesus is coming like a thief in the night, but not for the brethren, not for Christians. He’s coming like a thief in the night for the world. He’s coming like a thief in the night for pagans. He’s coming like a thief in the night for those professing Christians who do not have any personal relationship with Him, and who have never really been born again, and who refuse to believe the Word of God and study the Word of God.
But, He’s saying, “Let me tell you, if you have been born again, if you’re truly a child of God, if you read the Word and believe the Word, there is no reason in the world why Jesus should come as a thief in the night.” Look again at verse 4 it says, “But you brethren, are not in darkness, that the day should overtake you like a thief; for you are sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness; so then let us not sleep as others do.”
What do you think he means when he says, “We are sons of light and not of darkness?” I think what He’s referring to is the fact that if you are truly a born again child of God, you have the Holy Spirit residing inside of you. The Holy Spirit is the one who wrote the Bible. And, if you will lean on the Holy Spirit, the Spirit will illuminate your mind and illuminate your heart and open your eyes to understand the mysteries of God’s Word, including the season of the Lord’s return. And, so, it is true that the Bible says point blank that Jesus is coming as a “thief in the night,” but not for those who know Him and love Him.
There’s a similar passage in Hebrews 10. It says, “Do not forsake our assembling together as is the habit of some, but encourage one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.”
What day is he speaking of? Well, we are told in verse 27 that he is speaking of the day of judgment, the day when the Lord will return. It is the day referred to in verse 31 where we are warned that it is a “terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” Note again verse 25 where it says that we are to encourage one another “as we see the day drawing near.” Folks, that means we can tell something about the season in which we’re living. It means we don’t have to be totally ignorant about the time when the Lord is going to return.
Jesus Himself also indicated that we could know the season of His return. He did so in the Olivet Discourse, as is recorded over in the book of Luke. He delivered this discourse on the Mount of Olives to His disciples during the last week of His life. He listed many end time signs that we were to watch for, and then He said: “But when these things begin to take place, straighten up, lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”
The Unchanging Character of God
There are two reasons why we can know the season of the Lord’s return. Two reasons. The first is God wants us to know the season of His Son’s return. Let me say it again, God wants us to know the season of His Son’s return.
Now, you are probably thinking, “Come on, Dave, how do you know that?” Well, let me put it together to you in another way. Read this carefully. Did you know that God would violate His character if He sent Jesus Christ back by surprise? And, since God cannot violate His character, because He is a God of perfect integrity, then God must warn us about the return of Jesus.
Now, stop and think for a moment. Why would it violate God’s character to send Jesus back by surprise? The reason is that the Bible reveals that never once in all the history of mankind has God ever poured out His wrath without warning. That is the nature of the lovingkindness, grace, and mercy of God. Yes, God is a God of justice and righteousness and holiness, but He is also a God of tender-loving mercy and kindness, and because He is, He always warns before He pours out His wrath. Why does He do that? Because in 2 Peter 3:9 says, “God does not wish that any should perish but that all should be brought to repentance.”
The God who is the Creator of the universe is not some cosmic sadist who is hiding behind the clouds, peeking down at us, waiting for an opportunity to zap us with the greatest number of sinful people on planet earth with the return of His Son. God is wanting us to accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior. He is wanting us to accept His gift of love to the world. God is longsuffering and patient. Again, He does not wish that any should perish, but that all should be brought to repentance. And, again, God never pours out His wrath — never — without warning in advance.
Take Noah for example. God told Noah to go forth and preach to the people that they were living in the season of the pouring out of the Lord’s wrath. Noah preached that message for 120 years. He told people repeatedly, “You are living in the season of the Lord’s pouring out of His wrath.” And the people responded by laughing at him, scoffing at him, and ridiculing him. Some laughed until they could not tread water anymore!
Likewise, the Lord told His mighty angels to go into the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah and warn them of impending destruction. They warned, but the people of Sodom and Gomorrah didn’t believe, and they perished in the destruction of the cities.
God does not destroy nations He has blessed without warning. He is warning the United States of America today. He is raising up prophetic voices within our nation and all over the world, calling the nations to repentance. God never ever pours out His wrath without warning, and the point is, Jesus Christ is returning in incredible wrath! He is coming to pour out the wrath of God upon those who have rejected the grace, mercy, and love of God.David Reagan: God does not destroy nations He has blessed without warning. He is warning the United States of America today. Click To Tweet
The fact that Jesus is returning in wrath is one of the best kept secrets in the universe. Satan doesn’t want anyone to know about it. The average Christian does not know that Jesus is coming in wrath. But, the Bible makes it plain. Take Revelation 19, for example. That chapter tells about the Second Coming of Jesus. In Revelation 19, the Apostle John says, “I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat upon it was called Faithful and True; and in righteousness He judges and wages war.”
Jesus is coming to judge and wage war! He’s coming to pour out the wrath of God. It says in Revelation 6 that on the day Jesus returns, the presidents, and prime ministers, and the kings of this world will fall down on their hands and knees and crawl into holes in the ground and pray for the rocks and the mountains to fall upon them, so great will be the wrath of the Lamb of God.
God is going to deal with sin. He deals with sin in one of two ways — grace or wrath. You are under either the grace of God or the wrath of God. To be under the grace of God is a glorious thing. It means you have the promise that one day soon Jesus will appear and take you out of this world in an event called the Rapture.
But, if you are under His wrath, you’re going to be left behind when Jesus appears in the Rapture for His Church, and you’re going to experience wrath, unlike anything that you can even imagine. This will happen during what the Bible calls the Tribulation, a seven-year period of time during which the wrath of man, the wrath of Satan, and the wrath God will be let loose upon this earth.
God is no cosmic teddy bear. Most people tend to think of Him in that way, and so they, therefore, believe that when they stand before Him, God will reach out and He’ll put His big warm furry arm around them and He’ll say, “Well, I know you never did live a very good life. I know you boozed it up all the time. I know you chased women. I know you never accepted my Son as your Lord and Savior. But, you lived so much better than that old reprobate down the street from you, and since I grade on the curve, you just come on into my Kingdom.”
No such God exists! The God of grace, mercy, and love is also the God of justice, and righteousness and holiness, and He must deal with sin. The Bible says that God deals with sin in one of two ways. Either grace or wrath. Everybody knows John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish.” But, it’s amazing that very few people seem to be familiar with John 3:36 which contains some ominous words spoken by John the Baptist. Here’s what John 3:36 says: “He who believes in the Son has eternal life, but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, the wrath of God abides on him.”
In the third part of this series proving the fact that we are now living in the season of the Lord’s return, I will present as proof the end times signs of nature.