Years ago thieves broke into our home. I shudder whenever I think about it. The thieves strangled one of our dogs and drugged the other. We felt so violated but thanked God that I wasn’t at home on that particular day. Usually my father dropped me home and I was alone for a few hours until the rest of my family came in.
Jesus told His disciples that if the owner of the house had known when the thief would break in he would have stayed home and prevented his house from being broken into (Luke 12:39). Jesus was basically explaining to them that He would be coming at time they don’t expect. This is what coming as a thief means–unexpected. Not in secret as some people believe. He warns us, “Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect” (Matthew 24:44).
People believe that Jesus is referring to the rapture when He said, ” Then 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. Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming” (verses 40-42). However, before this He mentioned what happened in the days of Noah. “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be” (Verses 37-39).
Even though Noah warned the people about the flood, they made fun of him, perhaps calling him crazy. They continued living as they were and then when the flood came, they were unprepared. Likewise people will be caught unawares when Jesus comes even though they were warned to be watchful. The people taken represent those who were ready and the faithful and wise servant mentioned in Matthew 24:45-47).
There is no secret rapture and Jesus won’t be coming in secret. Paul makes this clear when he wrote, “For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night” (1 Thessalonians 5:2). He gives this warning, “But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober” (verses 4-6). He is reminding us that we know the manner in which Jesus will come–not in secret but unexpectedly as a thief. He warns us to be prepared. We must not slumber like the ten virgins but be watchful and sober.
The day of the Lord is anything but secret according to Peter. “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up” (2 Peter 3:10).