Like a Thief in the Night – 1 Thessalonians 5:2

Guest Blog by Vince Impellizzeri, husband to our Assistant Director Amber Impellizzeri.

AMH Series // His Word is Written Across My Heart

As a new homeowner, I think about security frequently. Even though my wife and I live in a pretty safe area, I check the locks on all the doors every night. Checking and double checking to make sure the deadbolts are latched, the windows are locked and the sliding door has the…stick of interference…installed. I even shut and lock our bedroom door just for good measure before bedtime. I want to make sure that if we have a break-in, it’s going to be as difficult as possible to get to us, particularly since we’re sleeping. Sometimes I daydream about installing motion sensors and sirens and strobe lights and automated pepper spray turrets and all manner of break-in deterrent devices.

Basically, I like to be prepared.

Why Should We Be Prepared?

You might be familiar with the phrase in the Bible “Like a thief in the night.” Generally, it’s used as an analogy to understand what the second coming of Jesus will be like. Take a look:

For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.” (1 Thessalonians 5:2)

“Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” (Matthew 24:43)

Maybe you’ve never heard these verses before. Maybe you have and you’re like “Pshh, old news! What else ya got?” But let’s take a moment and pretend you’ve never read or heard this before. Let’s think about what it means with a fresh perspective.

Imagine you’re in bed, in that almost-sleeping-but-just-barely-awake state. Peaceful, calm, the house is quiet. You’re just drifting off to sleep when….BANG! You hear the crash of breaking glass downstairs. If you were almost sleeping before, you’re the exact opposite now. Eyes wide open. Heart pounding. Adrenaline surging through your body. You know the noise you heard wasn’t the cat knocking over a vase…because you don’t own a cat or a vase. You don’t want to believe a stranger is in your house, but then you hear footsteps coming up the stairs…

In that second, the ONLY thing that matters is what you’ve done in the past to prepare for this moment. Did you lock the door? Do you have a gun by your bed? Is your phone charged so you can dial 911? If you didn’t lock the door, it’s too late now. If you don’t have a gun, you can’t go buy one now, and if you own one but it’s downstairs, you can’t go get it. If your phone is dead because you forgot to plug it in, there’s no time to wait for it to charge enough to dial 911. The only thing you can do is sit in dread of what’s about to happen. You’re out of options.

We Prepare so We’re Ready

But imagine the difference if you HAVE prepared! As the footsteps come closer up the stairs you pull your shotgun out from under the bed and load a shell into the chamber. You’ve already got your phone up to your ear dialing 911, but that’s just a formality anyway, since the glass break sensors on your windows triggered right away, alerting the police, who are already on their way. You stand in your room, gun pointed at your locked bedroom door, ready for whatever comes through. Ready and waiting.

Like a thief in the night. That moment in life when the only thing that matters is if – in the past – you’ve made a choice to prepare. This is exactly what the Bible tells us the second coming of Jesus will be like. Sudden. No warning. Like a 2am break-and-enter. No one knows when Jesus is coming back. It could be in a thousand years or a hundred, ten years, a month, or tomorrow. “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.” (Matthew 24:43) Jesus himself doesn’t even know the moment of His return!

But one thing we do know is that He IS coming back. When He does, every person on earth will know He’s here. No one will be indifferent, or shrug it off and go back to Instagramming their lunch, chatting with a friend, or doing homework. Everyone will drop what they’re doing and in a gut level reaction feel one of two things.

Overwhelming joy. Or heart pounding, trapped in a corner, I-made-a-huge-mistake, panic.

Joy because…well…JESUS IS HERE! He’s back to make everything right! To FINALLY overthrow the crippling hold of sin on the Earth. To gather His followers to Himself. To unleash justice, to break every chain, to wipe away every tear, to end pain and suffering and sickness and disease and death and to LIVE with us! I can’t say it better than Revelation 21:3-4: “He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”  Can you imagine?? I can’t.

you have an opportunity to-2

However, tragically…instead of joy, most people will feel….panic. Trapped. No options. No choices left to make. In an instant, they will realize it’s true. It’s true that Jesus of Nazareth was God come to earth. It’s true that He lived and died. And it’s true, more true than anything they’ve ever known, that He lives again, and He’s back. It’s also true that every opportunity they had to know Jesus they rejected Him, every time they had the chance to choose themselves or choose God they chose themselves. They turned down the free gift of pardon from a debt they owed and could not pay. And no doubt about it, they got what they thought they wanted. But at that moment, nothing will be more obvious than the fact that they made the wrong choice. They took the reins of their own life, went to bed with the doors unlocked and the windows open and now it’s too late to go back and change their mind. Too late.

In THAT moment.

But not THIS moment. This moment now, as you’re reading this sentence you still have a chance. You still have an opportunity to choose life, to choose Jesus, to surrender yourself, your desires and your will, and start living for eternity. Living for the day Jesus returns. Living for Him instead of yourself. You DON’T have to be the one caught off-guard, panic-stricken and dreading what happens next. You can be prepared, ready, and waiting with open arms.

Start today. Start now. 

You may not have tomorrow.

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