There is a significant intermission between the sixth and seventh bowls of God's judgment in Revelation 16. There, the Lord inserts a parenthetical statement—and it's a powerful one. He says, "Look, I come like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake and remains clothed, so as not to go naked and be shamefully exposed" (Revelation 16:15).
I have heard this verse quoted as a warning to be ready for the Lord's return. But I think the Lord gave it to us as a message of encouragement. This verse always blesses me. It tells me that even though the world is plunging headlong into depravity, we can trust God. Don't lose heart; don't lose faith. The Lord will come like a thief when the world least expects Him.
Don't lose heart; don't lose faith. The Lord will come like a thief when the world least expects Him.
If the words "I come like a thief" sound familiar, it's because Jesus made a similar statement to His disciples:
Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him. (Matthew 24:42–44)
The apostle Paul used that same metaphor: "[Y]ou know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night" (1 Thessalonians 5:2). And the apostle Peter used it as well: "[T]he day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare" (2 Peter 3:10). We should heed every word God tells us—but when He makes the same statement four times in His Word, we really need to take notice.
The Day of the Lord will come like a thief to those who are spiritually asleep, but we who are alert and watchful know it's going to be a great day.
Prayer: Lord, when I am overwhelmed by the brokenness of this world and the thought of enduring suffering and persecution, give me an eternal vision of Your love and purpose. Help me to trust in You and find peace in Your saving grace and coming Kingdom. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
"Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come" (Matthew 24:42).