Over the last few days, we 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 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 deceived. They will not expect the Lord Jesus, and He will come like a thief in the night to them. When Christ comes, those who buy into the enemy's deception and take the Mark of the Beast will look for places to try to hide from the wrath of God (Revelation 6:16). The believers, though, will be aware of what is happening.
Paul the Apostle wrote to the Thessalonian believers that those in Christ would not be surprised at Christ's coming, for 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).
Just as one does not expect a thief in the night, so destruction will come suddenly on those sleeping or unaware (those who are non-Christians, v. 3). The Day of the Lord will not surprise the believers, though, for 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). God will pour His wrath 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 and can refer to spiritual salvation or physical deliverance. In this context, this writer believes it should be translated as deliverance because believers will refuse the Mark of the Beast, and for that reason, they will be persecuted (Revelation 13:16-18). Those who trust Christ will be delivered by being caught up [raptured] from the persecution. Keith Thomas
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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 23 free studies in the Book of Revelation.