Time for another Tommy Settipani original!
Do you want to know the most overused and often used out of context phrase in the Scripture concerning the end-times: it is that He will come like a thief in the night. When coupled with we will not know the day or hour when He will return we can see how most Christians are being either intentionally or unintentionally misled by those in ministry positions.
The subject is either being outright ignored or is downplayed by those in leadership roles within the church either from lack of Scriptural knowledge on the subject and therefore they are afraid to teach it or a genuine lack of focus on what is the church’s blessed hope! If it is the latter then shame on those who ignore what makes up 30% of our Bible and our Lord’s word to us! We should be teaching this topic with the passion it deserves and what our Bible requires us to do! When you take the role of leader or pastor on in the church you are accepting a higher level of accountability before God. It is just that simple. You are required to teach your congregation the whole Bible, especially when it is focused on a message that is given to provide us with hope, joy and love. While it may not affect your salvation pastor/leader, you will stand before the Lord of Lights at the Bema Judgment. If it is taught correctly bible prophecy is a message that motivates and focuses the body on the things it needs to be doing before His return! It creates an active and motivated body to be His arms and legs.
If it was the former, then you need to get up to speed and learn the information. You are a teacher of the whole Word not just pieces and parts. You must be able to defend the whole faith! Scripture tells us in 2 Peter 3:3 that in the last days there will be scoffers concerning the return of Christ asking where He is. These people that are the scoffers are those in the church. It is a dead church like the church at Sardis in Revelation chapter 3. This church was not focused on understanding and putting into practice what they had received and heard from the Lord’s chosen messengers. Jesus tells them to first remember. He tells then to keep it and repent for not doing the first two things. He then goes on to tell the dead church what the consequences will be if they do not listen and obey. Jesus tells them that if they do not wake up He will come like a thief and they will not know the hour that He will come. A well known but little used Bible study technique is that in order to understand a subject or reference in Scripture then you need to look at the passage, chapter, book and then the whole Bible in order to fully understand what is being said.
If you focus on what is being said by Jesus to the church which by the way is the dead church it is to them that He will come as a thief in the night. This is not for the true believing bride! This whole concept is again backed up pretty clearly by Jesus again in Matthew 25 in the parable of the ten virgins. Jesus had just finished answering His disciples’ questions concerning His return and the end-times. He goes right into this parable and describes ten virgins. They are all virgins, they all are His in name supposedly and they all have the same focus and mission. When the bridegroom comes 5 are ready because they understood the times and seasons they lived in and had believed and were ready. The 5 foolish virgins were not ready, not focused and did not have their lamps ready for the bridegroom’s return. Again they were all virgins but some were not looking or ready for His return! This seems pretty straightforward to me to this point. Again what is the result for the dead, unready church: Jesus tells His disciples that when the 5 foolish virgins show up they find the door to the feast shut. They ask Jesus to open it up for them and He responds I do not know you. He then tells this group that they will not let them in. Jesus goes on to tell His disciples there fore the church to watch because you do not know the day or the hour but the will not know the day or hour. You have to be watching to be ready. If you are not even looking then you will not be ready and miss it!
In Luke chapter 12 Jesus tells us to be dressed for actions and to keep our lamps burning. We are to be like men who are waiting for their master to come. We are called blessed by Christ if the master finds us ready. Jesus then commands us in verse 40 to be ready!
For the day and the hour we will not know only the Father in heaven knows that but we do know the times and seasons in which He will return. He gave us more than enough information to be ready! He gave us the super sign of Israel becoming a nation again. This started the last day’s time clock. It is found in both the Old and New Testaments. It is the parable of the fig tree in Matthew 24 and is also found in Ezekiel chapters 36 and 37. We have seen the fulfillment of these Scriptures in 1948 when Israel was back in the land never to be removed. Then in 1967 they went on to recapture all of Jerusalem. The holy city was back in Jewish hands.
Jesus in Matthew 16 scolds the Pharisees and the Sadducees that they could read the sky in order to tell the weather but they could not interpret the signs of the times. Again the religious leaders who knew the Scripture the best were scolded for not knowing the times and seasons of their visitation! As a matter of fact He called them an evil and adulterous generation!
The most conclusive passage on this topic is actually found in 1 Thessalonians chapter 5 verses 1-10. Paul is talking to the church at Thessalonica after he has finished telling them in chapter 4 about the mystery of the Rapture and our blessed hope! He says to the brethren, the true believers, and the true church that we have no need of anything to be told to us regarding the times and epochs we live in. We are ready and know that the Lord will return and it will be like a thief in the night for some! He tells us in verse 3 that His return will be like a thief in the night for some. Those He clearly describes as sons of darkness. He tells us again in verse 4 that we, the brethren, are children of light and the return of the Lord and the Tribulation period will not come upon us like a thief. It is on the dead church and also on unbelievers that it will come upon them as a thief does. In verse 6 Paul says for us to be alert and sober and not like those who sleep! In verse 9 he tells us, the brethren, and the true church that we are not destined for wrath but to salvation. He finishes in verse 10 with the command to encourage and build up one another with these words!
So the easy question right here is: if we are not being taught the topic of the Rapture and the end-times how can we encourage one another and build one another up!