Over the last few days, we have looked at various signs that will herald Christ's Second Coming to earth. We cannot determine the exact time, the day, or the hour of Christ's return, but those who are living their lives with a heavenly awareness should know the season. The Lord expects His people to be aware of the things happening on the earth that point to Christ's soon coming. So, although we cannot set dates, we should be mindful of the signs of the times. Those who will sign on to Antichrist's kingdom and part of his new economy will be deceived, and the trouble with deception is that those deceived don’t know they are being deceived. The Lord Jesus will not be expected by them and He will come like a thief in the night. When Jesus comes, those who buy into the enemy’s deception and take the Mark of the Beast will look for places to hide (Revelation 6:16). The believers, though, will be aware of what is happening.
Paul the Apostle wrote to the Thessalonian believers to make them aware that there would be certain signs of the times that would encourage them as the time drew near (2 Thessalonians 2:1-4). He also wrote that those who are in Christ shall not be surprised at Christ's coming, for at the time believers in Christ will be very much awake to the signs. Here’s what he wrote:
1Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, 2for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3While people are saying, "Peace and safety," destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. 4But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. 5You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. 6So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled. 7For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. 8But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. 9For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. 10He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. 11Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing (1 Thessalonians 5:1-11).
Those who are unbelievers are spoken of in verses 2-3, while those who have received the light of life are not in darkness that this day should surprise them like a thief because they belong to the day. What is Paul saying with the verses above?
Just as one does not expect a thief in the night so destruction will come suddenly on those sleeping (those who are non-Christians, v. 3), this Day of the Lord will not surprise the believers, though. As the time draws near, believers will not be in darkness but very much aware of what’s going on (v. 5). This act of being caught up (raptured) will be a back to back event with the Day of the Lord (v. 1). The wrath of God will be poured out on those who have rejected the gospel (1 Thessalonians 5:2 and 9). Believers are not appointed to suffer the wrath of God, for they will receive salvation (v. 9). The Greek word translated salvation is sōtērίa, which can refer to spiritual salvation or physical deliverance, and in the context should be deliverance from the persecution of Antichrist because believers will refuse the Mark of the Beast (Revelation 13:16-18). We will be delivered by being caught up [raptured] from the persecution by the Antichrist. Keith Thomas
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This topic of Paul’s explanation of what leads up to the Rapture of the Church is explained in more depth at groupbiblestudy.com, click on All Studies, scroll down and click the End Times, then the specific study called, The Rapture of the Saints (There are also 21 free studies in the Book of Revelation).