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Next:Why Was Eve Made Up:SermonsPrevious:Contents

A Thief In The Night

His Coming is Near

I have a topic that I felt the Lord has put on me, and it has to do with an experience that happened in our home a few days ago.

If I would ask you today, reader, whether you have heard in the last week some Christian say, or some minister say, or some friend say they feel the Lord's coming is near, I wonder how many could say you've heard somebody say that. Or maybe you've said it yourself--you feel the Lord's coming is near. Well, some may say, ``I've heard that all my life;'' and I have too.

My father was a minister, and I remember hearing him preach about Jesus returning and about the Rapture. I remember one time roller skating and going down the sidewalk. There were about four friends with me. For some reason or other--I don't know how we got on the subject--I lined them up on the seat of the church (on the sidewalk actually, the steps that went down to the sidewalk), and I told them about the Rapture, about the coming of the Lord. They sat, listened, and asked questions, and I was just a little girl about eight years old. ``When is He coming?'' and ``What's it going to look like? What will the sky look like?''

Well, how does a little girl know? I just remember hearing from the preaching, and the Bible had been read to me twice before I was five years of age. Then I began to read myself. I had read about the coming of Jesus Christ, the Rapture. I believed it then and that was quite a few years ago. I believe it now with all my heart.

Scoffers, and Signs

But Peter and Matthew say there will be scoffers in the last days. These scoffers will say, ``Oh, yes, we've heard that before.'' And maybe someone reading here is like that: ``I heard that from the time I was a little child. I've always heard that Jesus is coming, and the disciples looked for His coming. They began looking for it right after He went up into heaven. You tell me He's coming--well, we've heard it before.''

But Jesus says there are certain signs. And the disciples said, ``Well, how will we know? How will we know when you are coming back?'' Jesus said, ``There are certain signs. Can't you tell when the clouds begin to gather over there in the sky, that it's going to rain?'' (cf Mt 16:1-4) He's in Israel talking to the disciples, in the Holy Land. It is true, when the clouds begin to gather it certainly does rain. The rain can come up in a big hurry. He also said, ``When you see a fig tree, and you see that its leaves are on the fig tree, you know that His coming is soon.'' (cf Mt 24:32-33) When you see a tree with the leaves turned, you know that it is fall. The leaves are going to fall off, and winter is near.

If you look through the Gospels in the Bible, you will find several illustrations that Christ gave concerning the last days. It is very easy to tell. The disciples said, ``How? What are these signs?'' Well, I've heard ministers talk about these over and over again in the last year. In fact, I heard Billy Graham go through the signs that we can tell that Christ's coming is near. But the thing that stirred me up recently again (and the Lord spoke to me, and told me, ``You better preach this because I want you to.''--and I'm going to) is that Jesus is going to come quickly and suddenly.

There have been those who have made dates in history. For the last twenty years I have read that Bible scholars have said, ``Look out for the eighties.'' Some have said, ``Watch for the year '82.'' Some have said, ``Watch for the year '84.'' How are they doing it? They are going back in the scripture, and they are counting the times as did men of God before Christ's first coming. It is said that they worked it out, concerning His first coming: that He came almost on the moment when He was expected. His first coming when He was born as a babe and laid in the manger was not a surprise. They did not know the day and the hour, but they knew just about the time when His coming would be.

Jesus said not to try to foretell the day or the hour. Earlier, in the nineteen hundreds, a group of believers sold all their goods, sold their homes, packed a few knapsacks, and went up on top of a mountain. They said, ``Now Jesus is coming on such and such a day.'' They waited, but He did not come. There have been others who have done that. They have ceased to carry on their lives, quit their jobs or whatever they were doing, and just sat and watched saying, ``Tomorrow will be the day... or next week.'' Jesus says, ``You cannot do that; we do not know the day or the hour.'' (cf Mt 24:36) The scripture says that even Jesus does not know. Only the Father knows.

In II Peter, Peter says it is going to be like this. He says,

But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness. [He is] longsuffering and not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. (2 P 3:9-10)
The day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night. Jesus himself said His coming will be like lightning. (cf Mt 24:27) How fast is lightning? How quick, how sudden is lightning? The news this morning talked about lightning in different parts of the country which is unusual this time of year. How many have looked up in the sky and seen the lightning? and how quickly it comes and goes?

Every single author in the New Testament talks about the return and the Rapture, the coming of Jesus Christ. St. Matthew says over and over again that we should watch and be ready.

...as a Thief

I was thinking about the words of Peter, ``He shall come as a thief in the night.'' A week ago Monday we had the experience of a thief in the night at our home. I never thought that I would be able to thank the Lord and praise Him for such an experience. But the Lord has helped me, and I find that it has been a wonderful experience for two reasons. One is that I will never in my life again, never, never take the presence of the Lord for granted, and the presence of Jesus Christ. I will never doubt His continual presence and help in time of trouble. The knowledge of it that has come into my soul through this experience has been refreshing and wonderful. The knowledge of the presence of Jesus Christ!

The other thing that has come to me from this experience is that now I know what the Bible means when it says that He will come as a thief in the night. Now I am more than ever concerned about those who are not ready. There are young people who are on my heart. They may not know it, but I pray for them. I have felt restrained--there are those who do not desire to be taken by the arm and brought to the altar. I pray for them. But I am going to pray harder for the lost than I ever have before. And I am going to ask the Lord to rebuke me if I ever go without a burden for the lost on my heart.

I will tell you what it is like--a thief in the night--and what the Bible means. You lock the back door, and you lock the front door. The windows are locked. You do not think about a thief coming. There is one scripture that talks about the fact that if you knew exactly the night the thief is going to come you would be there watching. Perhaps you'd even have the police alerted, and you'd have them in their patrol cars going up and down the streets. You might even have one in the house in the dark watching for the thief. If you knew exactly what hour he's coming and what day, you'd certainly be watching for him. But the scripture says Jesus is coming as a thief. What is that like?

In our house the thief came, he broke the back door, broke the lock, came in, went through the down stairs, the second floor, and up to the third floor before we heard him. And he was there. The Bible says Jesus is coming as a thief in the night.

There are some who aren't ready, who take a little look over their shoulder once in awhile. ``Well, it looks pretty good today. The whole world isn't at war. I haven't starved and I don't know anybody who has. Ah, it will be a little while; I don't need to worry.'' If you had know that Jesus is coming next week, and on what day and what hour, you would be getting ready wouldn't you? and you'd watch. You'd be prepared.

What do you do when a thief is already there, it's too late? He has gotten in the house, and he has control. You hear him. You hear him move through the rooms of the house, come down the steps, move through the halls, and stand in front your door. In our bedroom door is a little window that has a smoked glass across it. I could see him three times pass in front of our door. And then he went across the hall where I had been studying and had my pocketbook. I had some pencils and pens in it, and getting over the flu I had some throat lozenges in my pocketbook which had been beside me where I was studying. He stayed in that room quite awhile, moved around, moved around the house. You don't know when you hear a thief walking through the house, and when you hear him move around why he is so brave and why he is so brazen. Is he armed? Does he have a gun? Does he have a knife?

He picked up a box of matches in the kitchen and lit them to see in the rooms that were darkened, and threw the matches on the floor as the light went out from them. He took a good look all through the house. What does the scripture mean, ``Jesus will come as a thief''? One day, one night when we least expect Him. When we think the times are just not quite ready in my opinion, the day is just not quite the day, He will be here. He will be here. What will we be doing? The Bible talks about what people will be doing. Some will be sleeping in their beds; some will be working in the field. Why does the Bible say that? You know, all of us know the shape of the earth. Those of us who are up today, who are in school, who are in the middle of the day, we have the light and the sun. There are those on the other side of the earth who are in darkness, and it's night there. When Jesus comes it's going to be night for some, and light for others.

What else will we be doing? That's the question. Jesus has given the setting for us. It may be night. It may be in the middle of the day. We don't know what time of day it will be, weather it will be night or during the day, but are we going to be ready? What things does the Bible warn about? The Bible talks about when Jesus comes it's going to be as it was in the days of Noah. What about Noah? What's the matter with the days of Noah? The scripture says, and this is in Matthew, before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage until the day that Noah entered into the ark. The Lord made every human being so that you need some kind of nutrient for your body. Jesus isn't talking about that. And God instituted marriage. In Genesis we read about Eve being Adam's wife. The word is used. There's nothing wrong in marrying. But what is wrong are the sins that are rampant on the earth. The Bible also talks about Sodom and Gomorrah, and gives a slight reference to the coming of Jesus Christ. Why did God pour fire and brimstone down upon Sodom and Gomorrah? The name of the sin is taken from Sodom, ``sodomy''.

Our Day and Age

We're living in a day in age where people have twisted the word of God all around, and have said, ``The Ten Commandments don't work any more, and don't mean anything. And what good is the marriage license any more? It's not necessary.'' There's a woman who takes young children on a camp and teaches them this kind of immorality. Parents allow their children to go and be taught this. I heard this shocking thing this week.

Jesus desires purity in the inward parts. I thought of the verse this week, ``Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in the holy place?'' (Ps 24:4) You know the answer to the question? There are two question marks, who? ``[They] that have clean hands, and a pure heart.'' (Ps 24:5) Jesus Christ came to cleanse our hearts and make us pure.

I heard an interview program, and I thought it was going to be some kind of high level. On this program was a movie star as one of the guests, and there were some educators with her. They were trying to console her about an experience she had some thirty of forty years ago. She was a movie star and she went into another country, fell in love with a producer, left her husband and her children, and lived with this man, and had a baby, and wasn't married to him. And she wasn't welcome to come back into this country. I remember well. The news papers talked about it, and Hollywood even turned their backs on her. She was not welcome to come back through customs into this country, and she stayed away for a long time. She says, ``Now I can hardly believe they treated me this way.''

When people all over this country and all over the world, and people in high circles are talking about a meaningful relationship, and living together without the benefit of the blessing of God and witnesses before Him and before the church, living together in that kind of relationship, and under God's word committing adultery, ``Thou shalt not commit adultery,'' (Ex 20:14) the scripture says, one of the Ten Commandments, and talking about it and saying, ``Well, if it doesn't work out it's easy to get out of this relationship,'' all the time committing adultery in the eyes of God Almighty. The Bible says we should watch, because He's coming as lightning, and He's coming as a thief in the night.

Young People

I had a lovely Bible class last year, young people in high school. I really loved them. They asked questions, and at times said, ``Where do you see that in the scripture? I want to see where that is in the scripture.'' I like that. They wanted to see, and they wanted to know when I made a statement, ``Well, does the Bible say that and where does it say that?'' I really love that those young people.

One day I put a question to them. Some of you were in this room this morning who were in that class. I said, ``What thing does the devil use to tempt you the most as young people? What do you have the hardest time over? Let's talk about it; let's pray about it.'' And they hesitated, and one young man raised his hand and he put it down, and he dropped his head. And I said, Well, what is it? and I called his name. ``Well,'' he said, ``I better not say it, and he wasn't laughing, and he wasn't making fun.'' I said, ``Why not?'' Well, he said, ``It's sort of a sensitive subject.'' ``Well, if it's the thing the enemy uses to tempt you and cause you almost to sin, and you have the hardest time over it, let's hear what it is, and let's talk about it.'' Would we be too delicate to mention what this is? these young teenagers just entering the teens? What is it? What is it that maybe the enemy will use in these days of immorality, and promiscuous living? Some older people say it's alright to break the commandments.

What is it that this young man had in mind? I'll tell you what he said. He said, ``Well, if you want me to say it.'' And I will because this I feel gives the young people the hardest battle. He says it's our relationship with the opposite sex, and the temptations we have to sin. The urges that are in young people! and without the power of Jesus Christ when the enemy comes along, they fall into this kind of sin. Let's pray about it.

A young person waiting and watching for the Lord, trying to twist up these things, these things that are normal and right in a young person and cause you to sin and cause you to slip into a life of sin instead of uniting in marriage with a wonderful companion, and ready for a life together to serve the Lord in purity and in holiness, let fight it as young people, you as young people. If you know this is where the enemy is bombarding you and where your weakness is, pray about it, and ask the Lord to help you, and strengthen you.

Jesus says that we must watch and be ready. The Ten Commandments mention lying, stealing, and I mentioned this sin because this is what this young man did. But I'm here to say today that if you are committing another kind of sin, a spiritual sin, one with your mouth, say, and you don't treat your neighbor right, and you don't have the proper love for your neighbor, don't look down your nose for a young person who has fallen into another kind of sin, the sin of the flesh because in God's sight they're all wicked and sinful. Jesus Christ extends help. He extends hope and help. We have the account in the Bible where the woman was caught is sin, the kind of sin that I've been talking about. It is not in the original, but is certainly verified by Bible scholars that the disciples noticed this and John in particular must have been right there and heard what was said. It's recorded in John. (cf Jn 8:1-11) She was taken in adultery. All the accusers came. And Jesus says, ``Which one of you is without sin? You cast the first stone.'' When He looked up they were all gone, the accusers. And He said to this young woman, ``Where are your accusers?'' She said, ``They're not here; they went.'' He says, ``I don't accuse you either.'' He says, ``Go and sin no more.''

Come to Christ

We want to get ready. We want to be ready when Jesus comes as a thief in the night. What is your sin? What is your weakness? Come to Christ and ask Him to forgive. If I had time, I have about one or two more minutes, I'd go over again the signs of the times and I'd make some comment. They're in the book of Matthew. But I must close and say be sure to be ready, and watch for His coming. The Lord bless you and I thank you.


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